Most people aren’t aware that they’re grinding their teeth until damage occurs. If you’re one of the millions of people clenching your jaw or grinding, you’re experiencing a medical condition known as bruxism. It’s a common misconception that only night guards are available to treat tooth grinding and related issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). There are many treatments available today, including the use of targeted Botox injections. If you’ve only heard of these injections used for cosmetic purposes, you should also explore the benefits of Botox for TMJ issues. It may be just what you need to relieve pain and tightness in the jaw for months at a time.

What Issues Can Come From Tooth Grinding?

The biggest issue with bruxism is the loss of enamel. Everywhere your teeth rub together, the enamel will weaken, increasing the chances of decay and damage. Along with the physical damage to the teeth, you're also likely to notice increased sensitivity to cold and hot. This leads to pain in the teeth, not to mention soreness in the jaw and TMJ area. Constant grinding puts the entire structure of the tooth at risk for chipping or cracking as well. You may find yourself not getting enough sleep, yawning during the day, and finding it hard to stay asleep at night.

How Does Botox Work for TMJ Pain?

The key to using Botox for teeth grinding is the botulism toxin's ability to numb and temporarily paralyze a select group of muscles. That's exactly how the injections are used to address certain types of wrinkles and smile lines. In the cause of TMJ pain and tooth grinding, the injections instead target the muscles of the jaw responsible for the action. While stress is the underlying cause of most bruxism, using a TMJ injection routine gives you a break from the repetitive and uncontrollable action at night when you're asleep. This helps reduce your stress levels, therefore helping you reduce the chances of tooth grinding in the future. Botox alone won't solve your TMJ issues, but they will work together with other treatments to tackle the bruxism on as many fronts as possible.

Finding the Right Botox Dentist

Make sure to only get these kinds of Botox injections from your dentist. A skilled dentist still needs additional training with these TMJ injection options to give you optimal results. Ask your dentist any questions you still have about the Botox process before undergoing the treatment so you're prepared and comfortable.

What to Know About the Process

Multiple injections are usually needed for even effects on both sides of the jaw. Yet the process takes only minutes and is easily handled when you're already visiting the dentist for a routine cleaning or other dental treatment. The results of Botox for TMJ can last for months, with most patients needing a new application anywhere from 3 months to one year after the first visit. If you're working to reduce stress and improve your overall mental and physical health during that time, you may not even need another set of injections for long-term relief from tooth grinding.

Potential Side Effects of Botox for Bruxism

While Botox is a generally safe cosmetic and dental treatment with relatively few risks, there are some side effects that can occur after each application. The most common among them is minor swelling or pain at the injection sites that should disappear in a day or two. In more serious cases, it's possible to experience tearing eyes, droopy eyelids, a crooked smile, or slight drooling at the corners of the mouth. Choosing a more experienced Botox dentist can avoid a lot of these placement issues. If you notice more serious side effects like vision problems or a severe headache in the days after treatment, visit the emergency room immediately.

Combining Botox and Other Treatments

You don't have to choose Botox over other treatments because most other approaches to treating bruxism work well with it. For example, you can wear a custom nightguard before you decide if injections are right for you and continue to use them even if the majority of your grinding goes away. Stress reduction techniques like exercise, meditation, and changing your responsibilities at work can all reduce the effects of TMJ disorders as well. Use as many approaches to bruxism treatment as possible to get the best results in just a few months.

Visit your dentist today if you suspect you're dealing with tooth grinding issues. We can explore all of your options for treatment, including Botox for bruxism. We'll work with you to prevent damage to your enamel and keep your smile strong despite challenges like this one. Don't let tooth grinding go on for long without seeking treatment since it's more serious than it might seem at first.