Botox Treatment for TMJ Syndrome

The latest innovation in treating Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD, is the use of Botox to relax tight muscles and relieve the pain associated with jaw tension. Periodic injections of Botulinum Toxin into the affected muscles can alleviate TMJ Disorder’s chronic headaches and jaw pain.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder is a chronic condition often aggravated by stress and physical trauma. If you have any of the following symptoms for longer than a few weeks, it may be TMJ Disorder and could respond well to Botox treatment.

  • Chronic headaches, especially upon waking or when stressed
  • Neck and shoulder tension or pain
  • Sore or tender cheeks and jaw
  • Facial swelling
  • A clicking or grinding noise when you open and close your mouth
  • Frequent migraines
  • Bruxism (grinding or clenching of the teeth)
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Severe, sometimes shooting, facial pain

How Botox® Relieves TMJ Pain

Although Botox for TMJ pain is considered an experimental treatment, studies have shown that it relieves pain and headaches caused by teeth clenching and grinding for many patients. Our dentists inject small amounts of Botox into the facial muscles in and around the jawbone and sides of the face. The Botulinum Toxin temporarily prevents nerve signals from reaching the muscles, relaxing them and eliminating abnormal muscle contractions that lead to pain and jaw tension.

What to Expect When Getting Botox Injections for TMJ Treatment

The temporomandibular joints join the skull to the lower jawbone. These joints experience more movement and tension than any other joint in the body because they are used for eating, speaking, swallowing, and smiling. When the joints are overworked or stressed by teeth grinding or clenching, the joint becomes inflamed or displaced. The result is sharp, intense jaw pain, throbbing, and chronic headaches.

Strategic Botox injections into the muscles temporarily paralyze them so they cannot unconsciously clench or spasm. This does not impact the deliberate movement of the jaw, so it doesn’t affect speaking, eating, or other actions of the temporomandibular joint. After treatment, avoid rubbing the injection sites and surrounding area to prevent the Botulinum Toxin from spreading to other areas of the face.

The treatment may take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on how many injections are needed. The injections are administered in our office and do not require any recovery time. Most patients return to work and other activities immediately after receiving Botox therapy. The Botox begins to take effect within a few days, although complete relief may take up to a week. The treatment lasts 3-4 months for most patients and can be repeated. Over time, the cumulative effect sometimes lasts longer.

Are Botox Injections Painful?

Most patients describe the injections as a stinging sensation, much let getting any shot. Others describe it as a pinch. You may have some mild bruising or tenderness at the injection sites after treatment, but this is easily treated with ice packs and over-the-counter medications such as Ibuprofen. If you are concerned about discomfort, ask your dentist about applying an anesthetic cream to the area before the injections are administered.

Are There Side Effects from Botox® Treatment for TMJ Disorder?

Side effects are rare and usually minor, including:

  • Mild eyelid drooping
  • Bruising or redness at the injection site
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea

If you have been diagnosed with TMJ Disorder or regularly experience TMJ symptoms, Botox® may relieve your pain. Contact our office at Bethesda Phone Number 301-907-8201 to schedule a consultation, where you will be evaluated to see if Botox is right for you.

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