While most dentists shy away from adding Botox to their list of TMJ disorder (TMD) solutions, a few have incorporated this controversial treatment method into their repertoire. Since this approach has gained some interest, we wanted to share our professional opinion on the matter.
Tried and True Methods of TMD Relief
A good dentist that treats TMD will employ state-of-the-art imaging to get a clear picture of the patient’s teeth, gums, and entire jaw. In addition to quality imaging, there are other diagnostic tools that can pinpoint trigger areas, such as jaw tracing, a diagnostic device that assists dentists in developing the appropriate treatment.
The most commonly prescribed and typically effective solution to alleviate symptoms of TMD are dental splints or oral appliances. A straightforward approach to treating TMD, this simple device adjusts the position of the jaw, taking pressure off the joint and allowing it to rest. Patients generally feel relief soon after placing the appliance, but this rest for the temporomandibular joint also releases the tightening of surrounding muscles. Continued use of the device can permanently relax these muscles which have been caught in a cycle of spasms, triggering the pain, clicking, popping and other symptoms that often occur in TMD.
Another cause of TMD is a less than ideal occlusion (meeting of the upper and lower teeth) and can sometimes be corrected with adjustments to the offending teeth. In severe cases, orthodontic therapy may be needed and in milder cases, individual teeth can be adjusted and or restored to improve bite quality and relieve TMJ pain.
Botox and TMJ – are the Risks Worth it?
When it comes to costs, if your provider doesn’t obtain the appropriate imaging or diagnostic data, using Botox can be like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg – an expensive Band-Aid. Even in the best of settings, the use of Botox can lead to unexpected complications and side effects, some of which include:
- Respiratory Illness
- Flu-like Symptoms
- Drooping Eyelid
- Crooked Smile
While Botox can provide immediate relief from TMJ pain, it is a new treatment that has not been well documented for its use in TMJ therapy.
Things to Consider
Another factor to keep in mind is that the dosages used for treating TMD with Botox are higher than when used for wrinkles, increasing the risk of side effects.
Botox for TMJ is not a permanent solution and the temporary relief it provides may lead you into a false state of security in that you may feel that habits that have aggravated the condition in the past, such as chewing gum, can be resumed when in reality this action may worsen your condition.
For more information on TMJ pain relief in Los Gatos, CA or to schedule a consultation
with a dentist experienced in effectively treating TMD, call Dr. Cristina Herrera, today.