Is it a good idea to use Botox for Bruxism treatment? While the idea of using a neurotoxin to heal may seem counterintuitive, Botox, a form of botulinum toxin, has proven its effectiveness repeatedly over the last few decades. Made from the botulinum toxin, this drug is used to treat everything from migraines, facial wrinkles and overactive bladder to muscle spasms, uncontrollable blinking and excessive sweating. It is also proving to be a highly useful tool in the treatment of teeth grinding or teeth clenching, which is more formally known as bruxism. You are going to learn more on Botox for Bruxism Treatment in this article
Unconscious grinding and clenching of the teeth while awake or asleep is a surprisingly common issue that affects millions of Americans. In fact, the American Sleep Association reports that some 10% percent of American adults and 15% of children deal with sleep bruxism.
Although it may seem like a minor concern, bruxism can have serious consequences for those who struggle with it. For starters, the wear and tear on the teeth caused by the repeated grinding or clenching puts sufferers at increased risk for dental problems like chipped teeth, damaged enamel and tooth sensitivity. Painful problems with the temporomandibular joint, which are often referred to as TMJ disorders, can arise when the joint that connects the jaw to the skull becomes irritated or inflamed. In addition to jaw pain, people battling bruxism often report persistent headaches, facial pain, sleep disturbances and earaches.
Clearly, bruxism is more than a threat to a healthy smile. This condition can seriously interfere with an individual's quality of life. Although there is no cure for bruxism and the mechanisms behind it are not well understood at this time, there are a variety of treatments for the issue, including Botox injections.
Botox for Bruxism Treatment
Since its initial approval by the FDA in December 1991, Botox has been used to treat an expanding array of health conditions. In the case of bruxism, it is injected into the masseter muscles, which are located below the cheekbones. In some cases, the frontalis and temporalis muscles in the forehead and temples may also be treated. Once injected, the drug temporarily weakens the targeted muscles, relaxing them and offering welcome relief from bruxism and TMJ disorders without interfering with the voluntary movements involved in chewing or forming facial expressions.
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The Effectiveness and Safety of Botox for Bruxism Treatment
Botox is widely recognized by health care professionals for its ability to combat excessive muscle activity and soothe spasticity. How does it fare when it comes to treatment of teeth grinding and treatment of teeth clenching?
While researchers have been hampered by small sample sizes, multiple scientific studies have suggested that Botox injections are highly effective in providing pain relief for the pain and discomfort associated with bruxism. Relaxing the masseter muscle also reduces the stress and resulting damage to the teeth.
What about side effects of Botox for Bruxism Treatment? They are generally minor. Some patients have reported irritation at the injection site or temporary issues with a slightly lopsided smile, while others have reported an apparent slimming of their jawline. However, there are some concerns that repeated, long-term use may lead to a decrease in bone density.
How Botox Compares to Other Bruxism Treatments
Bruxism sufferers have a variety of treatment options. For those who suffer with the condition while awake, biofeedback and behavioral therapies may be useful. Some have success with auricular acupuncture and relaxation exercises, which can help reduce tension in the jaw muscles.
Doctors may also recommend that people troubled by bruxism improve their sleep habits by limiting stimulants like caffeine before bedtime, creating a healthy sleep routine or avoiding sleep positions that seem to spur the grinding. When pain and swelling are present, anti-inflammatory medications are often suggested.
Oral appliances like nighttime mouth guards (also known as a night guard or occlusal splint) may be the most commonly recommended treatment for bruxism. When worn while sleeping, these oral devices can help to protect the teeth and ease the strain on the jaw.
Compared to botox treatment, night guards are a relatively inexpensive solution. They effectively protect your teeth from the forces of grinding and clenching; however, they do not address the underlying overactivity of the jaw muscles. On the other hand, Botox injections are more costly, but they target the excessive muscle activity directly. As an added bonus, each treatment provides between three and four months of relief.
Could Botox injections provide you with much-needed relief from bruxism? The evidence seems to point to positive results.
However, to find out for your own unique situation, you'll need to reach out to your dentist, a dental surgeon (e.g. maxillofacial specialist), or another trusted medical professional for an evaluation and a discussion of the options.