I had planned to get some Botox for my TMJ pain this past Friday. Unfortunately, as some of you may know, there was a maintenance mishap in our building (not in the spa) that caused us to have to reschedule appointments for the day. Hopefully I can get it taken care of soon. If you suffer from TMJ pain you know how bad it can be. Luckily I don’t get that clicking and popping that can occur, I just get headaches and pain around my jawline from unconsciously clenching my teeth day and night.
I started having Botox injected into my masseters several years ago after a dental appointment. The hygienist said, “You are way too young to have teeth like that. If you keep grinding your teeth like that you’re not gonna have anything left!” Awesome. I’m sure I did some damage on my teeth just worrying about that! I left thinking about how I didn’t wanna go get fitted for a night guard and have that football gear in my mouth while I sleep. But then I remembered that Botox can do something similar: when injected into the jaw muscles it helps relax those muscles and greatly lessen their strength which in turn helps limit the clenching and grinding that cause the symptoms of TMJ disorders. Regular functions of the jaw muscle are left intact – don’t worry you’re still going to be able to talk and chew your food - while the more extreme and unconscious use of the jaw muscle is discontinued.
The temporomandibular joint is located on both sides of the head where the skull attaches to the jawbone. It is just beside your ears and acts like a hinge when you open and close your mouth. This joint is constantly used for chewing and talking. People who have TMJ disorders usually have symptoms like a clicking or grinding noise in the joint. The main causes of TMJ disorders are jaw displacement and stress-related, involuntary jaw movements (like teeth grinding and jaw clenching). Constant overuse of this joint and the attached muscles can lead to headaches, earaches, radiating pain from the joint, sore muscles around the jaw, neck and shoulder pain, and in extreme cases, lockjaw. Constant grinding of the teeth can also lead to tooth decay and loosening of the teeth.
As I’m learning more about TMJ and the pain it can cause, I remember that about a year ago I had a pain in my right jaw muscle that got increasingly worse to the point where I thought surely an alien baby was going to pop out of the side of my face. I went to the doctor. They looked in my ears, my throat. Felt lymph glands. Took blood. Did a jaw x-ray. Nothing. Seriously the pain was ridiculous. It went away after a day or so. Now I’m realizing it was most likely TMJ related pain.
Benefits of Botox for TMJ related problems:
elimination of headaches caused by nighttime grinding
reduced discomfort when using the jaw
reduced shoulder and neck pain
substantially reduced jaw tension
minimization of lockjaw
DO keep in mind that if you regularly get treated for TMJ with Botox, your masseters will eventually get smaller (from less use) and this can change the shape of your face. For me it turned my square jawline into more of an oval. To counteract this you can try to space out your appointments to fewer per year, or you can always have some filler added to your jawline to return to your baseline appearance.
Most patients experience improvement within two or three days of their first treatment, although relief can take up to a week. The amount of units used can be about 20-50, with 30 being fairly average.