It’s been a stressful year. Pandemics and elections and lockdowns and homeschooling and social distancing and vaccinations and people who wont wear their masks at Trader Joe’s and on and on and on. I don’t know about you, but my anxiety level has reached epic levels over the last 12 months. I’ve lost sleep, gained weight and basically come close to the brink of a collapse more times than I can count. One primary way I’ve noticed this anxiety manifesting itself has been through some intense bouts of jaw pain, clicking and locking. And I know I’m not alone.
According to the Washington Post, dentists are reporting seeing more patients complaining of jaw pain associated with bruxism (the technical term for jaw-clenching and tooth-grinding) than ever before. The statistics aren’t quite as definite as all that, but it’s certainly a great time to be a manufacturer of bite guards these days. I got my first bite guard about 8 months ago and it has done a lot to prevent me from cracking a tooth or damaging any of my fillings, but it hasn’t really eliminated my pain. If I open my jaw too wide, I’ve begun hearing a strange click that doesn’t strike me as normal. And it hurts!
My dental hygienist is apparently having the same issue. She’s already on her second bite guard and shared her newest form of relief with me: Botox. Her bruxism had evolved into TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) disorder and she thought it sounded like mine had, too. Last time I saw her, she was waiting for her day off until she could get her next injection. And she recommended I do the same.
How Does Botox Help?
The TMJ is the joint between the jaw and the skull, like a hinge that opens allows your mouth to open. When your TMJ muscles are stressed it can tense up, causing pain and, without relief, can be a huge source of frustration and irritation. Muscle tension in the jaw can interfere with so much of regular life: eating, speaking, yawning. A displaced or overworked jaw can cause headaches, swelling, neck and shoulder pain and even ringing in the ears.
Botox is often thought of as a cosmetic procedure, but the same properties that make it desirable in that aspect also lend itself to TMJ therapy. Botox injections temporarily prevent nerve signals from reaching your muscles, affecting the ability of muscles to contract. This means Botox injected into the muscles around your TMJ can decrease spasms and allow normal function. This can reduce the frequency of headaches, decrease instances of bruxism and, if your response to such things is anything like mine, decrease your anxiety, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Results from Botox wont last forever, but can provide some measure of relief for several months after treatment and can be combined with other therapies to help treat your primary TMJ related issues.
How To Get Relief
Pain from TMJ disorders can be a real problem, causing pain and hindering your ability to enjoy everyday. Dr. Moradi and the team at Moradi M.D. are available to answer any questions you might still have about Botox treatment for TMJ. Contact us via email or call us at (760) 645-1309 to schedule a complimentary consultation.