Most people know BOTOX® Cosmetic as a treatment for facial wrinkles and fine lines. But for some people, BOTOX® may also relieve the chronic jaw pain associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
TMJ causes vary widely, and BOTOX® isn’t effective for everyone. In some cases, an oral appliance known as a bite splint may be recommended. BOTOX® may also be used in conjunction with other therapies, including bite splints. If you suffer from persistent jaw pain, recurring headaches and other TMJ symptoms, a knowledgeable neuromuscular dentist can recommend a treatment based on your unique needs.
BOTOX® in Brief
BOTOX® is the acronym for botulinum toxin A, which has a number of cosmetic and medical applications. The medical form is a serum that includes a small amount of the toxin to obstruct signals from the nerves to the muscles, thus prohibiting muscle contraction.
The serum is administered via a tiny needle to the affected site. In the case of forehead lines, for example, BOTOX® is applied to the muscles that cause the brow to furrow. In instances of TMJ, BOTOX® is injected into the lateral pterygoid muscles, which are on the upper portion of each side of the jaw and aid in chewing.
While BOTOX® is best known for its aesthetic applications, it has proven beneficial in treating migraines and a number of conditions characterized by muscle spasticity.
BOTOX® and TMJ
BOTOX® was approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of glabellar lines, the “frown lines” that often appear between the eyebrows as we age. As such, research into BOTOX®’s applications for TMJ and other disorders is relatively recent and is still ongoing.
The findings of a study published in the November-December 2002 issue of the Clinical Journal of Pain suggested botulinum toxin could relieve TMJ-related orofacial pain, but it emphasized the importance of proper injection placement and technique in order to achieve results. In 2010, BOTOX ® was actually approved to treat migraines by targeting the same muscles that link TMJ to these chronic headaches.
A 2013 review of existing studies indicated that BOTOX® is effective in treating TMJ-related jaw pain. The same analysis found BOTOX® effective in treating chronic headaches and bruxism (teeth grinding), two conditions often associated with TMJ.
Other TMJ Treatments
BOTOX®’s effects fade with time, and repeat treatments may be necessary to maintain results. For TMJ, BOTOX® may be used as a complement to another therapy.
TMJ treatments differ depending on the source and severity of your condition. In addition to BOTOX®, other options include:
- TENS therapy: TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and treatment consists of a mild electrical current delivered to the jaw muscles in order to relax the muscles and allow the jaw to settle into a comfortable resting position
- Oral appliances: These devices, often referred to as bite splints, are similar in style to sports mouthguards; they are custom made for each patient’s individual bite, and they are designed to hold the jaw in its optimal position
- TMJ Next Generation: This new treatment may be effective for those who don’t respond to other TMJ therapies; the comfortable, ear bud-like device works by delivering a slight irritation to your ears when your jaw is clenched or otherwise unhealthily positioned
Denver neuromuscular dentist Dr. Kevin Berry is dedicated to helping patients who suffer from TMJ pain treat the source of their condition and find lasting relief. To schedule your TMJ consultation, please call the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado at (303) 691-0267.