I used to say I felt like I was part of the Shriver family. You know Maria Shriver…married to Schwarzenegger. Related to the Kennedy’s. But all celebrity and politics aside, it was that strong Shriver jaw that made me feel like a relative. I actually liked my square jawline for a while. As I got older though I saw my face changing and there was something I couldn’t quite pinpoint that was different…and I didn’t like it. I once told Iris, I feel like all my features are moving towards the center of my face! I wasn’t sure what changes were causing the difference I was seeing. In hindsight, I know the change I was seeing was my jaw, getting stronger…and bigger…from clenching, and from grinding my teeth.
I have been really good at grinding my teeth for much of my adulthood. I’ve written a previous blog about it, which I will link to here. TMJ pain is terrible. I’ve had it on and off my whole life but the last few years it has been pretty bad. It’s to the point where not only do I have pain in my jaw joint, but I am doing damage to my teeth.
So three times over the last year I have had Botox or Dysport injected into my masseter muscle to calm it down (the masseter is the large muscle at the base of your jaw near your ear. Clench your jaw and you can feel it contract). My intention was only to lessen the pain, not to change my jawline. In fact, when it was mentioned to me that it might change the shape of my jaw, I almost didn’t wanna do it. I thought I’d somehow end up looking like a person I didn’t know! But the pain in my jaw was too overwhelming. It said: Botox! Give me Botox! I always know it’s time for more when the pain sets in again.
Here’s the basic idea of what happens: if you grind your teeth, your masseter is working over time. It’s like being at the gym all day and night. So it gets larger. And stronger. That’s when you start doing damage to your teeth and when your TMJ starts to hurt all the time. It’s a vicious cycle.
I read an article about Botox for TMJ around the time I started at Body Tonic last summer and asked Iris if she could do that. Of course! She felt my masseters and said they felt like rope (aka…strong and knotty). Ha…say knotty in your head. Sounds like naughty. My masseters are naughty as well!
Botox in your jaw essentially lessens the strength of the masseter for the duration that the Botox is effective (about 3-4 months…same as when you have it injected for forehead lines). My personal experience is that the beneficial effects last about four month. When I start feeling pain again, I get some more. The aesthetic component to this was an added bonus for me…it completely changed my jawline…making it much softer and actually changing the shape of my face from more square and harsh, to more of an oval shape, giving me an overall softer appearance. I love it. And it was so gradual I didn’t know until I saw those before and after pics!
I’m laughing at myself right now thinking about my last two blogs: things I’ve said I liked about myself are: my angularity and strong jawline. All sharp angles. A year ago, when I started here, I was much more rough around the edges, both inside and out. It seems the changes that Botox made on my face - the softening of my features - happily reflects what yoga has done for my insides over the last year- a softening of my soul. Yoga and Botox…who knew they went together?!