How Botox Can Help TMJ


The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that attaches your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. When pain and limited movement affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is often to blame. Dysfunction can lead to symptoms like difficulty chewing, jaw pain, and locking or clicking of the jaw joint.

There are more than three million U.S. cases of TMJ each year and most cases resolve within months. Common treatments include bite guards, medications, and physical therapy. Botox, a neurotoxin protein, is also used as an alternative treatment to relieve symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorders.

What Causes TMJ?

The temporomandibular joints consist of two joints that connect the lower jaw to the skull. These joints are located in front of each ear and are able to slide and rotate, allowing the mandible to move side to side, up and down, and forward and back. When the joints and mandible are properly aligned, a person can engage in smooth muscle actions like talking, chewing, and yawning. However, when these structures are misaligned, pain and other symptoms may develop.

It is not always clear what causes TMJ. Temporomandibular joint dysfunction has been linked with the excessive strain on the jaw joints or muscle group that controls speech, chewing, and swallowing. In some cases, this strain is a result of bruxism, or teeth grinding or clenching habits. Trauma to the head, jaw or neck can also cause TMJ. Certain types of medical conditions, such as arthritis or the displacement of jaw joint discs, can contribute to TMJ pain.

What Is Botox?

Also referred to as Botulinum toxin type A, Botox is a drug produced by a bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum. In small doses, Botox can be used to effectively treat a wide variety of health conditions, such as severe underarm sweating, facial wrinkles, strabismus (misaligned eyes), blepharospasm (uncontrolled blinking), overactive bladder, cervical dystonia, and chronic migraine.

Botox injections work by paralyzing or weakening certain nerves or muscles. The effects last an average of three to 12 months. When administered by a professional, Botox is considered a relatively safe procedure. The most common side effects include swelling, bruising, or pain at the injection site. Some patients may also experience headaches, flu-like symptoms, and upset stomach.

Does Botox Help TMJ?

While Botox is known as a beauty-enhancing treatment, it can also reduce abnormal muscle contractions which can help relax the muscles in the jaw. TMJ is highly sensitive to stress, whether emotional, physical, or psychological. When you’re feeling stressed, the muscles in your mouth and jaw can become tense, leading to symptoms like soreness, swelling, headaches, and ringing in your ears.

According to a study published in the Journal of Stomatology Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Botox was found to significantly decrease pain and increase mouth movements for three months following treatment. Many people who undergo Botox for TMJ experience fewer headaches, less anxiety, better sleep, and overall increased dental health and wellness.

TMJ can also develop as a result of teeth grinding or clenching. Grinding and clenching your teeth puts pressure on the tissues, muscles, and structures surrounding the jaw. Botox can help alleviate the discomfort of grinding by relaxing the overworked muscles while also lessening the appearance of the muscle that can build up and make the face appear wider.

What Happens During Treatment?

Botox is a non-surgical procedure performed on an outpatient basis. Treatment typically lasts about 10 to 30 minutes and causes minimal discomfort, similar to a bug bite or prick. Most patients can expect to have at least three sessions of injections performed over the course of several months. Ongoing injections may be required to prevent the symptoms of TMJ from returning. After treatment, patients should remain in an upright position and avoid massaging or rubbing the injection site for several hours.

Schedule an Appointment

Want to find a dentist that offers Botox? Bonham Dental Arts in Largo, FL offers a wide range of restorative, family, and cosmetic dental services, including professional Botox treatments. Botox can even be incorporated into your regular dental cleaning appointments. To learn more about how Botox can help TMJ or to schedule an appointment, contact Bonham Dental Arts.