Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, also known as TMJ disorders, refer to a group of conditions involving the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and the muscles that control jaw movement.

Often, people who suffer from TMJ disorders experience common symptoms that include chronic or intermittent jaw pain, headaches, earaches, neck pain, difficulty opening or closing the mouth fully, clicking or popping sounds when opening/closing, and locking of the jaw in a partially open position. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as between 5% and 12% of people in the United States have at least one symptom of TMJ disorder.

While the exact causes are unclear, TMJ disorders are often associated with teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), traumatic injuries to the jaw, arthritis, or stress/anxiety. Conventional treatment approaches may involve bite splints, pain medication, physical therapy, and injections of corticosteroids. However, for some patients, these options provide limited or temporary relief of symptoms.

This is where Botox injections show promise as a treatment. Botox in TMJ treatments works by temporarily weakening or relaxing overactive muscles. Injections of Botox into the jaw muscles may help reduce pain and improve jaw function for TMJ disorder patients. Let’s look at how Botox is being used as a treatment option for managing TMJ disorders and their symptoms.

How Botox Is Used To Manage TMJ Disorders

When using Botox to treat TMJ disorders, the injections are targeted at specific jaw muscles that dental professionals believe may be perpetuating pain and restricted jaw movement. A common muscle targeted is the masseter muscle, which is one of the thick, broad muscles responsible for closing the jaw during chewing.

During treatment, a clinician will use small needles to inject tiny amounts of Botox into multiple sites across the masseter muscles on both sides of the jaw. Typically between 20-30 units of Botox are used per side. The procedure only takes around 15-20 minutes and is done with local anesthetic to numb the injection areas and minimize any discomfort.

The goal of Botox injections for TMJ disorders is to temporarily weaken and relax the tense, overworked jaw muscles. By reducing muscle tension and contractions, it aims to decrease pain and improve jaw mobility that may have been limited by muscle strain patterns from bruxism or teeth grinding.

However, it’s crucial to understand that Botox does not permanently weaken the muscles. Instead, it provides 2-3 months of relief from symptoms as the muscles are given a chance to rest and recover.

Is Botox Effective for Managing TMJ Symptoms?

Several studies and reviews have explored the effectiveness of Botox injections for reducing common TMJ disorder symptoms. A review published in Semantics Scholar summarized that Botox injections into the masseter muscles resulted in significant decreases in self-reported jaw pain levels for 3 months post-treatment in multiple randomized controlled trials.

Additional research has found Botox can improve maximum unassisted mouth opening within 2-4 weeks after injections when opening had previously been restricted due to TMJ issues. One study observed a mean increase of over 10 mm in maximum mouth opening post-Botox.

Overall, the current body of research suggests Botox to be a promising option for providing temporary relief from common TMJ disorder symptoms like jaw pain and restricted opening through muscle relaxation.

Explore Botox Treatments For Your TMJ Disorder

Botox injections do show potential as a treatment for managing symptoms of TMJ disorders. The temporary muscle paralysis induced by Botox allows painful, overworked jaw muscles time to recover from strain patterns. Additionally, the minimally invasive injection procedure is well-tolerated, with only minor side effects like temporary swelling or bruising at injection sites in some cases.

For patients seeking relief beyond over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, or when splint therapy is insufficient, Botox injections can offer a worthwhile alternative. Call us today to schedule an appointment and learn how we can help you ease the symptoms of your TMJ disorder.