The Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) holds the jaw bone to the skull. It is composed of various muscles, tendons, and bones which function together and enable the upper jaw to close on the lower jaw. The TMJ is one of the most frequently used joints of the body, responsible for such functions as biting, chewing, talking, and yawning.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly called TMJ or TMD occurs when there is a derangement in the normal functioning of the Temporomandibular Joint. Repetitive behaviors such as teeth grinding or clenching, gum chewing, fingernail biting, or stress lead to hypertrophy or enlargement of the masseter muscle which is the main muscle used for chewing. This muscle hypertrophy along with its repetitive spasms cause an acute or chronic inflammation of the joint resulting in TMJ. The disorder and resultant dysfunction results in significant pain and impairment for many people. TMJ symptoms include chronic headaches, earaches, facial pain, and damage to the tissue on the inside of the mouth.
Treatment of TMJ
Traditional treatments for TMJ have been performed by dentists and orthodontists and include the use of bite guards, removal of wisdom teeth, and chiropractic maneuvers. However these have been met with little success. Recently, Botox has been used for the treatment of TMJ with great results.
Treating TMJ With Botox
Treatment of TMJ with Botox is simple, safe, and does not involve any surgery. During the procedure, the masseter muscle is identified by having the patient contract the muscle in a clenching manner. Several tiny Botox injections are then applied directly into the muscle. The Botox will then cause a relaxation of the muscle, weakening it but not fully paralyzing it. You will still be able to speak and chew your food, however you will notice an absence of the spasms that occur with the clenching and grinding that were present prior to the treatment. Some patients may even notice a cosmetic difference, with their relaxed jaw line creating a more smooth and natural shape. Additional injections may be made in the temples and forehead depending on each individual’s symptoms. It is important to know that only the areas injected with Botox will be affected by the treatment. There will be no effect anywhere else in your body.
Botox treatment for TMJ typically takes between 10-20 minutes depending on the number of injections needed. This will vary for each individual. There is minimal pain associated with the injections, and an ice pack may be applied to the injection site prior to the procedure to aid in reducing the pain.
Patients will begin to see results from their treatment with Botox from 5-7 days after the procedure. The effects of treatment last for approximately 4 months. After 2-3 treatments with Botox, the masseter muscle often begins to atrophy or shrink and many patients will lose the habit which accompanies the repetitive grinding or clenching. Therefore further treatment with Botox may not be required, and patients may continue to live their lives free from the chronic pain caused by their TMJ.
Is Botox for TMJ Safe?
The use of Botox is extremely safe, however as with any medical procedure there are possible risks and side effects to be aware of when using Botox for TMJ treatment. There may be mild temporary bruising, numbness, or redness around the injection sites. Some patients may experience headaches, respiratory infection, a flu-like syndrome, nausea, or muscle weakness. These risks and possible complications are infrequent, minimal and temporary. Botox injection treatments should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
It is important that you choose a physician who is experienced in giving Botox injections. Inappropriate Botox injections may result in drooping of the eyelids or drooling around the mouth. These effects are not reversible and will last for about 4 months.
During your initial consultation, Dr. Zadeh will evaluate your symptoms and the impairment they cause on your activities of daily living and explain your treatment options to you in detail. He will determine which injection sites and amount of units, will work best to achieve your desired outcome. You will return to the office 1-2 weeks after your procedure for a follow-up appointment, at which time additional injections may be required to achieve an optimal result.