212SMILING (212-764-5464) info@212smiling.com

Botox in NYC: Not Just for Wrinkles!

You probably know Botox as an injectable filler that rejuvenates the skin, making you appear younger and reducing wrinkles, particularly around the eyes. But did you know that Botox treatments can also be used for relief of certain jaw and head problems, specifically TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), migraines, chronic headaches and bruxism (teeth grinding)? This non-invasive treatment for both women and men has become increasingly popular in treating jaw and head issues. If you would like to know more about Botox and how we use it, please call us today at 212-Smiling (212-764-5464) or click here to request an appointment at our New York City dental office.

Dentists are in a unique position to offer Botox – they are adequately trained in all matters of the mouth, facial anatomy, and how the mouth works with the rest of the head and neck, as well as aesthetic training. Dr. Wolfson has received special training in delivering Botox for the relief of pain caused by TMJD, migraines and bruxism.

The Dental Quality Assurance Commission (DQAC) of Washington released in 2013, which now allows general dentists to use Botox and dermal fillers when “used to treat functional or aesthetic dental conditions and their direct aesthetic consequences and the treating dentist has appropriate, verifiable training and experience.”

Why do I have jaw pain, teeth grinding or headaches?

Jaw pain or headaches is usually directly related to dental issues – most notably, teeth grinding/bruxism or TMJD. Headaches or jaw pain are caused by muscle tension or muscles holding tight for a long period of time. Many people are unaware that their headaches or migraines are being caused by their jaw clenching or grinding. Dr. Wolfson is a specialist in treating these types of disorders.

How does Botox work for jaw pain, teeth grinding and headaches?

Botox is essentially a muscle relaxer for the face. Given in half the dosage, it weakens the muscles that cause tension and teeth grinding, alleviating symptoms such as TMJD, migraines, chronic headaches and bruxism. A study confirms that Botox reduces pain and symptoms in non-cosmetic head and neck conditions. The study found that there is a “therapeutic role for Botox in a wide range of non-cosmetic conditions pertaining to the head and neck.” With ongoing research, the spectrum of clinical applications and number of people receiving Botox will no doubt increas

Another advantage to using Botox to treat head and jaw issues is the reduction of the activity of these muscles, long-term. Sometimes Botox use can actually prevent the return of the disorder.

Botox may not be the first treatment for TMJD, bruxism, or migraines, depending on the severity of the patient’s pain and whether they have tried other treatments.

Botox for TMJD

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD) refer to disorders of the jaw muscles and temporomandibular joints in the face. Approximately 20-30% of adults experience some form of TMJD – and the disorder is more common in ages 20-40 and females.

TMJD are hard to diagnose and hard to treat because of their complexity. TMJD is not a single condition, but a number of factors that work together to cause pain and discomfort. Symptoms associated with TMJD are also associated with many other disorders and can range in severity

Causes of TMJD include:

  • Grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Stress
  • Arthritis in the joints
  • Movement of the soft cushion in the joint

Symptoms of TMJD include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, around the ear
  • “Sticking” or “locking” of the jaw
  • Difficulty opening mouth wide
  • Clicking, popping, or other abnormal sounds when opening the jaw
  • Soreness in the face
  • Trouble chewing or an uncomfortable bite

Botox is an increasingly common treatment for TMJD. When injected into the muscles used for chewing, speaking, biting, and swallowing, Botox partial paralyzes these muscles, making them unable to grind and relieving jaw tension. Many people are unaware that they are grinding their teeth – and so unable to stop.

Botox has many advantages when used to treat TMJD:

  • Stops teeth grinding
  • Minimizes jaw tension and discomfort
  • Minimizes neck pain
  • Improved dental health

Alternatives to Botox for treatment of TMJD include over-the-counter medications, dental work to improve the bite, a night guard, laser therapy, etc. Though Botox is not a cure for TMJD, it does address the causes of TMJD and not the symptoms. The effects of Botox last about 2-3 months

Botox for Migraines

In 2010, the FDA approved Botox as a treatment for chronic migraines or headaches. “Chronic migraine is one of the most disabling forms of headache,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Patients with chronic migraine experience a headache more than 14 days of the month. This condition can greatly affect family, work, and social life, so it is important to have a variety of effective treatment options available.”

Causes of migraines include:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain foods, food additives, or drinks
  • Stress
  • Bright lights, sun glare, unusual smells
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Changes in the weather

Migraine symptoms include:

  • Moderate to severe pain
  • Burry vision
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light or noise

To treat migraines with Botox, every 12 weeks several injections are done around multiple areas of the head in neck in efforts to dull future headaches. Injections reduce symptoms caused by migraines including nausea, vomiting, and light, sound, and smell sensitivity.

Some people who suffer from migraines have adverse reactions to pain medications. In these instances, Botox is an attractive alternative. Certain types of headaches respond better to Botox than others. Patients who report migraines that feel “imploding” (like a squeezing or crushing sensation) typically find more relief than patients who report migraines that feel “exploding.” Migraines due to muscle spasms or tension headaches respond very well to Botox.

Botox is only recommended for patients with chronic migraines – defined as headaches occurring on 15 or more days per month lasting 4 or more hours each, and of which at least half are classified as migraines.

Botox for Bruxism

Bruxism is the medical term for unconscious teeth grinding and clenching. Those who clench or grind do so either awake or asleep and bruxism can lead to severe dental issues – and pain. Many people who suffer from bruxism are unaware they grind their teeth and are told by their partner, dentist, or start experience symptoms. Symptoms of bruxism include headaches, earaches, pain in the face, sore jaw, etc. Bruxism can eventually lead to loss of tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity, and chipped teeth.

Causes of Bruxism:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth
  • Sleep disorder/sleep apnea

Treatments for Bruxism:

  • Reducing stress by seeing a counselor, exercising, or using muscle relaxants
  • Night guards (do not cure bruxism but help manage symptoms)
  • Treating sleep disorders
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid chewing on anything that isn’t food
  • Relax the jaw at night with a warm washcloth
  • Botox

Botox has become a viable option for those who suffer from bruxism. Botox is injected directly into the large muscle that moves the jaw. Botox provides symptom relief by targeting and treating muscle activity – essentially helping to partially paralyze/weaken the muscles that grind or clench. Dental devices used to treat bruxism, such as night guards, protect the teeth against grinding but do not address the actual grinding itself.

Though not a cure, Botox can help manage bruxism symptoms and eliminate the need for a night guard. Results from Botox last 3-4 months.

Is Botox Right for Me?

For your dentist to determine if Botox is right for you, it is important to disclose your medical history and understand your symptoms. Botox may have small changes on the appearance of your jaw line – typically making it appear smaller and thinner after several treatments. It also prevents future aging in the jawline and corrects aging lines caused by muscle movement. Years of TMJD or bruxism can lead to a square jaw and Botox helps soften this.

Does Insurance Cover Botox for Dental Issues?

Your medical insurance may cover Botox. Our insurance experts can call your insurance company and find out if it is a covered service, submit documentation for medical necessity and then submit the insurance claims on your behalf.

Side effects of Botox

Similarly to using Botox for cosmetic reasons, Botox has few side effects. There is risk of bruising, redness, or swelling and some patients report neck pain, headaches, or nausea. Patients who wish to undergo Botox injections should disclose medical history, be in generally good health, not be pregnant or nursing, be infection free, and should not use Botox if you have any allergies to ingredients.

Recovery after Botox Treatments

The entire procedure takes about 10 minutes and does not require anesthesia. Patients can return to daily activities immediately following the procedure. You should avoid physical activity, any makeup, rubbing or massaging the area or laying down for approximately 4 hours after the injections. Most patients begin to feel relief from TMJD, bruxism, or migraines within 3-5 days, though it may take up to 10-14 days. Botox lasts about 3 months and after 2-3 Botox treatments, the muscles should begin to relax for longer periods of time.

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