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Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?  Are you aware of grinding or clenching of your teeth?  Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?  If yes, then you may be suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders or TMD.  The good news is that the FDA has approved a new method of treatment from an old friend used in getting rid of wrinkles—Botox.

According to Delta Dental, more than 15 percent of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain, such as jaw pain or headaches, and the source of these may be related to one or both of the TM joints.  In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans are affected by this often painful condition.

Where are these joints located, and why can they be such a pain?

The two joints are located on both sides of the head at the point where the jawbone meets the skull.  They work together with a complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones to help you with everyday activities, such as talking, eating and swallowing.  However, TMD occurs when the jaw twists or becomes displaced during opening, closing or side-motion movements, such as clenching or teeth grinding.  Other factors can be at play as well, such as an injury, stress or arthritis.

That aching jaw:  What are the symptoms?

The symptoms associated with TMJ disorders can be:

  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
  • Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort
  • Dull, aching pain in the face
  • Earache or headache
  • Jaw pain or locking of the jaw
  • Sensitive teeth

How Can Botox Help?

Botox can be offered as an alternative treatment for TMJ pain because by injecting it into the affected areas, it acts as a muscle relaxer, allowing your muscles to be immobilized and giving you much-needed relief.   The length and number of the treatments would be recommended by your dentist and determined by the severity of your TMJ disorder.

Botox Benefits

What are the benefits to this non-surgical and non-invasive procedure?  There are many:

  • Quick
  • Effective
  • Administered in dentist’s office
  • Noticeable improvement within one to two days of the first treatment.
  • Easy return to normal activities.

However, as with all treatments and procedures, there are some risks and possible complications with Botox, although they limited and usually temporary.  There may be mild temporary bruising, numbness or redness around the injection sites and sometimes the injections themselves can be painful, such as the feel of a “prick”.   Other more severe side effects can be a respiratory infection or nausea.

Other medical uses for Botox

The medical uses for Botox are continuing to be discovered and approved.  In addition to being effective for TMD, the FDA has approved Botox for other uses as well.  Migraine headaches affect about 12% of Americans and can be debilitating for many.  Botox injections can treat chronic migraine headaches in adults.  It can also be used to treat other neuromuscular conditions, such as muscle spasms, muscle stiffness and Bell’s palsy.

Is your dentist offering Botox?

As with all treatments, it’s important to discuss them with your dentist.  Dr. Julie Stante, DDS, of Fishers, IN, is one a handful of dentists in the Indianapolis area who treats TMJ patients utilizing Botox and knows the importance of using the best treatments for TMJ disorders.

“If you’re interested in trying this alternative treatment for your TMJ pain, speak with a qualified dentist so that she can give you the best advice regarding your best options,” says Dr. Stante.  “We view this type of treatment as an opportunity to help our patients to improve the harmony and function of their jaw, but we work as a team with our patients in making sure they know all the facts and treatments available.”


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