At times we are challenged by patients with chronic pain and soreness in their jaw muscles. Though these patients have received benefits using oral appliances, performing home exercises and massage techniques, using medications and even going for physical therapy, they continue to suffer as a result of daily and continuous aching pain in their face. Though we may not fully understand why their muscles continue to hurt, the use of Botox injections has restored hope for many of these sufferers
Consider the case of Carly a thirty eight year old female with a 20-year history of facial pain and tooth clenching activity during the day and at night. She was first treated while still in high school during the stress of exams and applying to college. Her symptoms however continued through college and into her adulthood often with acute flareups prompting the use of pain medications and muscle relaxants at bedtime. Despite professional treatment and ongoing self care she continues to brace her jaw muscles and clench during the day and wakes up with “my teeth plastered together.” As a result her muscles were paying a price!
With the knowledge that Botox can be used to partially incapacitate muscles, not allowing them to contract forcefully, it’s use in this particular case was clearly indicated. Though not FDA approved for this specific purpose at this time, its use with patients has produced encouraging results. By preventing forceful muscle contraction over three to four months after injection, the sore and tender jaw muscles benefit from increased blood flow bringing oxygen and nutrients essential to healing. As a result Carly’s pain symptoms eased considerably and her days were no longer consumed by constant massage and mouth opening movements to “loosen my face.”
Most importantly, Carly regained optimism that her problem could be helped though she would likely require additional injections to undue years of muscle compromise. As Botox is not a cure, Carly understood that any efforts she made to keep her muscles out of trouble would go a long way towards maximizing the benefit of the Botox. As a result of this understanding she continues to use her oral appliance at night and practices relaxation breathing techniques frequently throughout the day.
The end result is that Carly is feeling better and realizes that her life does not have to be filled with pain and suffering.
Botox for teeth grinding is in the news! I was recently interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning America on the topic, Can Botox be used to treat teeth grinding? Click the link to watch the segment.
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