Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, can result in jaw pain and persistent headaches. It can also diminish tooth enamel and cause sensitivity and even chipped teeth. Treatments for teeth grinding focus mainly on preventing dental damage, but new studies have shown that using Botox for bruxism could effectively halt grinding in the first place.
Botox for Teeth Grinding
Botox has historically been used in anti-wrinkle cosmetic treatments. Derived from the botulinum toxin, it paralyzes muscles temporarily, making it equally useful in treating conditions marked by muscle spasms, such as facial dystonia. When used judiciously, Botox limits a muscle's full range and wears off over time.
Now, research has shown that injecting a small amount into the muscles responsible for moving your jaw reduces clenching and the accompanying tension and aches, reports the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE). Botox for bruxism is injected into the masseter muscle just below your cheekbone and the frontalis and temporalis muscles in your forehead and temples.
In the short term, Botox treatments can be effective in halting teeth grinding. As the Chicago Tribune reports, one study found that six out of 13 participants who received Botox injections experienced "much improved" or "very much improved" symptoms.
Teeth grinding can often be associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems. Since other TMJ treatments are mainly palliative (such as pain medication or relaxation techniques) or invasive (such as replacing a portion of the joint or undergoing arthrocentesis), Botox is a promising non-surgical alternative.
Side Effects of Botox
Botox has the potential to assuage severe pain right away, but it isn't a long-term solution. Over time, the injections can lead to a loss in bone density, according to UConn Today.
Additional long-term effects are also still under scientific review. The only immediate side effect reported by the Chicago Tribune was a "lopsided smile" for two out of 13 participants, which returned to normal after a few weeks.
For more information on the effects of Botox, reach out to a medical professional. It's essential that you discuss all your treatment options with both your dentist and doctor before moving forward with a procedure.
Other Treatment Options
Before you consider Botox injections, you should be fully evaluated by your dentist and doctor as well as a oral maxillofacial specialist, a dental surgeon who specializes in the teeth, jaws, neck and head. After this consultation, you should be clear on your diagnosis and better informed about the best path for your specific condition.
Your dentist may recommend trying other measures first. If you tend to grind at night, a nighttime mouth guard is a common solution. It can decrease damage to your teeth and lessen soreness from muscle tension.
The Bruxism Association notes that doing muscle relaxation exercises and consciously improving sleep habits (such as avoiding caffeine before bed and keeping a regular sleep schedule) can also help with nighttime bruxism. For people that grind their teeth during the day, a habit-awareness treatment known as biofeedback can help identify the factors that stimulate grinding.
You may also want to consider alternative approaches, such as auricular acupuncture, which has also been found to be helpful in treating bruxism and relaxing muscles, reports the British Acupuncture Council.
Maintaining Enamel Health
For those who grind their teeth, daily oral care that strengthens enamel is a must. Make sure to use appropriate gentle brushing techniques with a soft-bristled brush, and get in the habit of using an enamel strengthening toothpaste.
Bruxism is not necessarily just a physical condition. Dealing with constant grinding and headaches can be extremely stressful. Whether you choose Botox or another treatment, make sure to seek out medical help when necessary, and commit to a healthy diet and rest to support your oral care and overall well-being.