The temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is a hinge-like joint that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of the skull, which are located in front of each ear. The joint lets you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so it’s essential for things like talking and chewing. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about TMJ. But if you’re one of 20% to 30% of adults who suffers from a TMJ disorder, you may be trying to find relief from the pain and irritation that your condition causes.
Whether you’ve tried other TMJ disorder treatments or are looking into them for the first time, you should consider Botox to help your TMJ. Botox injections block impulses from nerves to your facial muscles, forcing your muscles to stop contracting and thus alleviating TMJ pain.
If you’re interested in Botox for treating TMJ in the San Diego area, the staff at Sedation Dental Center are happy to answer any questions you may have. To help you make an informed decision, the following information will familiarize you with TMJ and all of your treatment options, including Botox.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorders can have a variety of causes, including genetics, arthritis, jaw injury, or clenching/grinding teeth. It most commonly occurs among women aged 20 to 40, and may be temporary or last for years. Symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- jaw pain and/or tenderness
- pain around one or both temporomandibular joints
- aching pain in or around your ears
- difficulty or pain while chewing
- aching facial pain or swelling
- your jaw getting stuck or locking in an open or closed position
- noises when moving your jaw joint, such as clicking, popping, or grating, that may or may not be painful
TMJ disorders typically only require treatment when there is pain or a limitation of motion. If you’re experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of TMJ disorders, make an appointment with Sedation Dental Center of San Diego to see if Botox for treating TMJ is right for you.
Treatment Options for TMJ Disorders
Medication can be a first-line treatment for TMJ disorders. The medications that your doctor may prescribe include stronger doses of NSAID painkillers for pain and swelling. They may also prescribe muscle relaxers to help relax your jaw muscles. If your TMJ disorder is related to stress, anti-anxiety medications may also be prescribed.
Your doctor also may prescribe a mouthpiece that fits over your teeth to correct your bite position and decrease the intensity of clenching and grinding. You may be given a night guard, which is only worn at night, or a splint, which is worn all the time.
Other non-surgical treatment options for TMJ disorders include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound, trigger-point injections, and radio wave therapy. With TENS, low-level electrical currents are used to relax facial muscles. Ultrasound can apply heat to muscles, helping to soothe soreness and improve mobility. Trigger-point injections inject pain medication or anesthetics into pain points in the facial muscles. Radio wave therapy stimulates the joint to improve blood flow and reduce pain.
If other treatments are unable to alleviate your symptoms, there are three types of surgery that can treat TMJ disorders. Arthrocentitis is used for patients with locked jaws and involves flushing out the joint. Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgery where your surgeon will go in via your ear to remove inflamed tissue or realign your joint. Open-joint surgery is usually only performed if arthroscopy isn’t possible. In this surgery, your doctor will open the entire area around the joint to remove tissue or realign the joint.
Treating TMJ Disorders with Botox
Another option for treating most TMJ disorders—and the one that we at Sedation Dental Center recommend—is Botox. You may associate Botox with wrinkle treatment, but it is also used for a variety of medical applications, including overactive bladders, lazy eye, migraines, and TMJ disorders.
Botox is a medication that contains small amounts of a highly purified botulinum toxin derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The medication targets muscle contractions, like the ones that can cause TMJ disorders. During Botox treatment for TMJ, our San Diego-based team of specialists will use microneedles to inject the medication into several places in your facial muscles. This forces the muscles to relax and stop contracting, which stops the associated clenching and grinding that causes TMJ symptoms. The skin over the injection sites will appear smooth and unwrinkled, but you still still experience a normal range of facial motion.
Since TMJ disorders are already painful, you don’t want to have to undergo a treatment that will cause even more pain. The ultrafine needles used in Botox treatments mean that any associated pain is minimal, with many patients comparing the sensation to that of a bug bite. Many treatments, especially ones like medication, only treat the symptoms of TMJ disorders instead of addressing the underlying problem.
There is also no recovery time or long-term pain for Botox compared with surgeries, so you don’t have to take time off from work or your other activities in order to get treatment. Surgeries are also non-reversible. If anything goes wrong during surgery, the effects can be permanent. Botox doesn’t have the permanence of surgery: If you decide that Botox isn’t for you, you can discontinue treatment at any time.
At Sedation Dental Center, we offer a wide range of procedures with sedation dentistry, including using Botox for treating TMJ in our San Diego offices.
Potential Side Effects of Botox for TMJ Disorders
One important thing to consider before option for Botox to treat TMJ is the longevity. The effects of Botox only last four to six months and may be even shorter for patients over age 65. However, clinical studies have indicated that the effects do last longer with repeated treatments.
Most side effects of Botox are likely to occur at the injection site. Redness, bruising, infection, and pain at the injection site can occur. You may also experience dizziness, mild trouble swallowing, respiratory infections, nausea, headache, and muscle weakness.
While very serious reactions are rare, you should seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms: itching/swelling, rash, severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.
If you have been dealing with a TMJ disorder, you don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort anymore. To receive Botox for treating TMJ in San Diego, make an appointment at Sedation Dental Center today.