News Flash! Bettheny Frankel Explains Why Her Face Has Changed: “I Get Botox In My Jaw.”
That headline has been winding its way through the web in the past few weeks. I must admit that when I first saw it I had no idea who Ms. Frankel was (I had to ask my wife). But as an orofacial pain specialist, and someone that uses Botox for jaw reduction in my practice, the headline stopped me in my tracks. It’s a topic discussed at lectures and in medical journals, but I have never seen it in mentioned in mass media before.
The article goes on to explain that the reality TV star was encouraged by her dermatologist to consider getting Botox injections in her jaw. The goal was to reduce the size and shape of the jaw. It had become bulky as a result of many years of tooth grinding.
Now, if you are about to jump on the phone to your dermatologist and ask about injections of Botox for jaw reduction you need to know a few facts:
Here’s how your jaw works: The masseter muscles (define your jaw profile) combined with the muscles in your temples and the jaw joints (the “TMJ”s) all work together to enable you to open and close your mouth. They help you to chew and to speak. But…when they are used too much all kinds of problems can occur. These problems can be sore jaw muscles, headaches in the temples, sore teeth, jaw clicking and locking, diminished jaw motion, ear pain that occurs without an ear problem being identified, and more. What’s more, the size and shape of your jawline can change.
That’s what happened to Bettheny Frankel.
While Botox has a prominent place in my arsenal of treatment methods, Botox alone cannot change the behaviors or risk factors that can cause your jaw to change shape. Botox doesn’t cure the source of the problem. In order for that to happen, you must stop overusing your jaw muscles.
For the average person over-use activities are teeth clenching and grinding. This can happen during the day (called Awake Bruxism) or at night (Sleep Bruxism). Or both.
In addition there are many daytime jaw overuse behaviors. Chewing gum, biting your nails or cuticles gnawing on a pencil, or simply clenching your teeth together will engage your muscles. When your teeth come together, you are making a fist in your face. Imagine what can happen after hours of making that fist on a daily basis!
During sleep, teeth clenching and grinding can occur for a multitude of reason, most of which are out of your control.
Here’s the good news: Jaw over-use behaviors during the day can be changed. In addition, we continue to get better at identifying the risk factors that may be driving your sleep bruxism. Experienced TMJ/Orofacial pain dentists, like me, have gained valuable insights into these problems leading to effective treatment strategies.
The treatment options can range from natural supplements, sleep hygiene programs, prescription medications, deep breathing exercises employed during the day and before bedtime, formal meditation training, oral appliance strategies that introduce different appliance designs during the course of the week, jaw and neck exercise programs and injections. These injections can include the use of Botox.
Here’s the bottom line: Botox after several injection sessions can prevent the jaw muscles from contracting forcefully. That leads to more slender and less bulky muscles. Botox injections can return your face to its previous proportions. But, if you want long-term success Botox must be surrounded by other supportive and complementary care. Because…if you don’t stop and/or reduce your daytime jaw muscle overuse and sleep bruxism, your jaw muscles will inevitably bulk up again.
So, go ahead. Talk to your dermatologist about Botox for jaw reduction. But also get a referral to a TMJ/Orofacial pain dentist who will help you maintain your normal jawline for life.