TMD and Botox

Botox is a medication used as a muscle relaxant to ease symptoms of TMD and for cosmetic purposes. Temporomandibular Disorders or TMD is a collective term for the muscle and joint symptoms that commonly arise when there are pain and dysfunction such as chronic headaches and jaw pain.

There are a variety of views and treatment methods in the dental profession today and hence how your TMD would be treated depends upon which dentist you consult. That’s why it is important for you to get an understanding of the types of treatments available so that you can make the best decisions regarding your course of treatment.

Some of the most common approaches to treating this disorder are :

  • Exercising the jaw muscle with pre-defined exercises.
  • Alteration of your eating habits.
  • Medication such as BOTOX that causes a relaxation in the muscle.
  • A dental splint usually worn at night.
  • Orthodontic adjustments to change the way your teeth bite together.

Studies suggest that TMDs tend to improve or resolve over time. While no specific therapies have been proven to be uniformly effective, many of the conservative methods have proven to be at least as effective in providing symptomatic relief as the aggressive forms of treatment.

The American Association of Dental Research suggests that unless there are specific and justifiable indications to the contrary, treatment of TMD patients initially should be based on the use of conservative, reversible and evidence-based therapies.


Bruxism is the clenching and/or grinding of your teeth, especially at night. Clenching refers to tightly clamping your top and bottom teeth together. The force of clenching causes stressful pressure on the muscles, tissues and jaw.

Jaw disorders, jaw pain, soreness, headaches, earaches, damaged teeth and other problems can result from bruxism. If clenching causes jaw pain, it can disrupt sleeping and eating, lead to other dental problems or create TMJ problems. Nightly grinding can also disturb sleeping partners.

Treatment involves repairing damaged teeth (such as restorations, crowns, or inlays to replace the damaged tooth surface) and subsequently creating an occlusal splint (night guard) made from hard plastic that fits over the upper or lower teeth, and is worn at night to prevent further wear of the tooth surfaces.

TMJ disorders and Botox

TMJ disorders have a variety of symptoms which include earaches, headaches and limited ability to open their mouth. Patients may also complain of clicking or grating sounds in the joint and feel pain when opening and closing their mouth.

At Star Smiles Dental Centre we work to determine the cause and offer a range of options in order to deal with the issue before it damages your teeth.

One such option is Botulinum or BOTOX that can be used to immediately stop the clenching and subsequent headaches and jaw pain. This can lessen the destructive effects of grinding and cease headaches associated with TMDs. Botox is a prescription medicine which contains 100 units of botulinum toxin type A and is a natural, purified protein that is used therapeutically in dentistry to relax facial muscles.

How does Botox Treatment Work?

An extremely dilute form of Botox is injected to partially weaken muscles and has been used extensively in cosmetic procedures to relax the muscles of the face. Since Botox relaxes part of the facial muscles, they cannot be contracted fully therefore the pain is minimised.

Botox is generally administered by a very fine needle into the muscles that are causing the pain (eg. Masseters, temporalis, frontalis). With a selected appropriate dose so that only part of the muscle is treated. The rest of the muscles still can function normally therefore chewing is mostly unaffected.
No anaesthetic is required since the procedure has minimal discomfort (a slight sting at the injection site). The treatment generally takes around 15 minutes for a full treatment.

The Botox treatment takes around 2-4 days to begin taking effect and up to 7 days for the full effect to be felt.

Botox and Bruxism

In the treatment of bruxism, Botox weakens the muscle enough to reduce the effects of grinding and clenching, but not so much as to prevent proper use of the jaw muscle for eating.

Botox treatment typically involves a number of small injections into the masseter muscles. It takes a few minutes per side, and you can start to expect feeling the effects as quickly as the next day, although 3-4 days is more common.

The optimal dose of Botox varies for each person as some people have stronger muscles that need more Botox. This is why it is critical to see a dentist specifically trained in the application of Botox for treatment of clenching.

How long does it last?

The effects of Botox usually last for about 3-4 months however it varies depending upon the individual. Repeat injections may result in the effects being prolonged.

Over time it is usually possible either to decrease the dose or increase the interval between treatments.

Are there any side effects?

At Star Smiles Dental Centre we carefully measure the amounts appropriate for your case. Since the injection site is very localised the side effects are minimised.

However as with any procedure there may be side effects that include headaches, pain, swelling, redness and bruising around the injection site.

When is Botox unsuitable?

Botox is unsuitable in the following conditions. Please ensure that you inform us if you have one or more of these conditions:

  • Allergy to albumin
  • Immunisation to botox
  • If you have had botox in the last 3 months
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • Have an infection, skin condition or muscle weakness at the site of injection

If you are suffering from headaches or jaw pain, please contact us on 1300 32 TEETH for a consultation to determine the best course of treatment.