Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is more than a bad habit. If left unchecked, it can lead to oral health issues. This habit causes premature wear on your enamel, so a person with bruxism is more prone to developing tooth sensitivity, gum recession, cavities, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues. To treat bruxism, a dentist might recommend Botox injections. Read on to learn more.
How Does Botox Work at a Dentist Appointment?
Every appointment is different, but when Botox is used for bruxism, a dentist will typically place injections in the masseter muscles. These muscles sit in your cheeks and are mainly responsible for opening and closing the jaw. When Botox is injected into these muscles, it blocks nerve signals and slows down muscle contractions. While involuntary micromovements will be slowed, Botox shouldn't affect voluntary movements involved in eating and speaking. Before your dentist uses Botox, they will apply a numbing agent so that the procedure is more comfortable. Once the Botox injections are done, some patients may only need to come in for repeat injections a few times a year.
What Are the Other Benefits of Botox?
Besides slowing down muscle contractions, another benefit of Botox is that it slightly atrophies the masseter muscle. People who grind their teeth may tend to develop square-shaped or uneven jaw lines because their facial muscles can be overworked and aren't trained to relax. Botox can help retrain these fascial muscles so that bruxism is less likely in the future. Also, this slight atrophying effect helps to reduce wear and tear on teeth since there is less force if a person does happen to grind their teeth.
Another huge benefit of dental Botox is that it can prevent bruxism-related TMJ disorders. The temporomandibular joint is a disc that articulates the lower jaw from the temporal bone. When there is dysfunction in this disc, a person can develop a TMJ disorder. According to the International Journal of Oral Science, sustained clenching from bruxism can be incredibly detrimental for the TMJ disc and lead to tissue damages. By correcting a bruxism habit, a person can reduce damage to the TMJ disc and prevent related symptoms, such as headaches, shoulder/neck pain, etc.
Lastly, The Journal of the American Dental Association says that locally administered Botox can be helpful for people whose bruxism is caused by movement disorders. While nightguards may be a treatment option for people with bruxism, some people have difficulties with compliance due to comfort, daytime bruxism, etc. Botox is a great alternative option for people who can't or don't want to wear a mouth guard.
Reach out to a dentist in your area today to learn more about Botox.