For more than two decades, FDA-approved Botox(R) Cosmetic has been used to reduce the appearance of frown lines, crow’s feet, and forehead lines. More recently, however, this treatment has also been found effective to treat dental-related conditions like clenching and grinding, gummy smiles, jaw pain, and pain and discomfort related to the TMJ, as well as other medical conditions like muscle spasms and excessive sweating.
Botox is a protein made from the Botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Although it is a toxin, Botox can have enormous benefits in both cosmetic and medical settings when used correctly and in small doses.
Botox works by weakening or softening the muscles into which it is injected, preventing the release of acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter important for reactions between the brain and muscles) and keeping the muscle cells from contracting and stiffening.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can be a common spot of discomfort or soreness because it is a frequently-used part of our bodies. The TMJ acts as a hinge for your mouth, helping your jaw move during complex movements like chewing and talking. If the TMJ is overactive or strained, it can also cause you to clench and grind your teeth, either at night, during the day, or both. This constant activity of the TMJ can lead to disorders of the joint and pain in the head, neck, shoulders, face, and ears.
Although some TMJ disorders (TMDs) can be related to malocclusion or skeletal problems, most are the result of this overuse of the muscles connected to the joint, and if left untreated, can be debilitating for millions of people.
To relieve the pain and tension caused by an overactive TMJ, the muscles of the joint must be relaxed and retrained. Sometimes this can be done by identifying external causes that trigger your TMJ to clench, such as stress, or by using an orthotic device like a night guard to protect your teeth and relieve pressure on the joint. If these treatment modalities are not enough, your dentist may recommend a therapeutic Botox procedure, such as Masseter Botox for TMJ pain relief and muscle soreness.
Therapeutic Botox injections can help relax the strong muscles of mastication (chewing muscles), muscles of the face and forehead, and the temple area, reducing tension and soreness in the face as well as the frequency and severity of headaches, shoulder pain, and neck pain. Therapeutic Botox therapy can be used in conjunction with other treatments like a well-fitted night guard.
Therapeutic Botox is a quick, minimally invasive procedure that can provide much-needed relief with little to no pain or side effects. Before receiving treatment, your dentist will start with a consultation to go over your concerns, medical history, and any other conditions that may prevent you from getting Botox therapy. He or she will work with you to determine the correct dosage needed for your specific condition, then develop a treatment plan that ensures the most efficient use of Botox to maximize results and minimize cost.
The appointment for your therapeutic Botox treatment typically lasts only a few minutes. Your dentist will clean the skin of the area to be injected and inject Botox only at specific sites to the targeted muscle. After the initial treatment, your dentist may keep in contact to evaluate your needs for any additional units of Botox. This is standard in cases where TMJ pain persists or for patients with larger muscles. Your dentist may recommend starting with a normal or slightly smaller dose at the initial visit–as it is always better to add later than to start with too much at the beginning–assess the results, and adjust your dosage for subsequent visits. In general, your provider will know within one or two treatments the ideal dosage for your optimal results.
The majority of patients experience minimal side effects or pain after a Botox treatment, if they experience any at all. Some patients report redness, bruising, mild swelling or pain at the injections sites that typically subsides within a few days. Here are a few things to help minimize some of these symptoms:
Of the 4.25 million people worldwide who use Botox, most begin noticing improvements within 4-7 days after the injections, with about 82% of patients seeing an improvement within one week of treatment.
Most Botox treatments last between 3 and 4 months, and many patients take advantage of their twice-a-month dental checkups to renew their Botox therapy to help their muscles maintain a steady, relaxed state. Your dentist will be able to provide more guidance on a specific Botox treatment plan that will work best for your situation to keep you comfortable and pain-free.
Botox treatment is usually billed out per unit used, with some areas of the United States billing up to $20 per unit. Therefore, it is recommended you schedule a consultation with your dentist concerning your goals and which areas you would like to treat. Your dentist will use this information to give you an estimate of the units needed and the associated fees. Though exact prices can vary by patient and locations, the national average for Botox treatment is about $340-400 per area treated.
While Botox injections are typically considered only cosmetic–and therefore not covered by insurance–the use of Botox for therapeutic purposes is still relatively new. Depending on the type and severity of your conditions, as well as the treatment plan developed by your dentist, there is a possibility your insurance will cover some or all of the cost of therapeutic Botox. However, be sure to speak with your insurance, your dentist, and your dentist’s billing office for accurate information, and be prepared to pay out of pocket.
Dental Depot DFW is proud to offer therapeutic Botox for patients experiencing TMD and facial pain, clenching and grinding, headaches and migraines, gummy smiles, and even dry mouth, and it is just one of the many treatment modalities we offer as part of our comprehensive dental services. We believe good oral health is absolutely essential for good overall health, and we strive to remain on the cutting-edge of the best and most effective treatments, therapies, and techniques to help our patients achieve their healthiest smile.
If you are interested in therapeutic Botox to treat TMD, migraine, jaw pain, bruxism, or other dental-related conditions that aren’t responding to traditional treatments, schedule an appointment at one of Dental Depot’s DFW metro locations for a free consultation.