Botox in Dentistry?

When you hear the word Botox what do you think of?  A procedure that many people use to try to stay young?  Well what if I told you that Botox can relieve pain.  We carry Botox in our dental office.  Why you might ask?  This is a question I am asked often, so let me give the answer here. Several years ago I went to an education course in Seattle on the subject of TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) pain, head aches and sleep apnea. We discussed the contribution that the chewing muscles (masseters and temporalis) have on headaches and joint problems. Over use of these muscles through clenching and grinding can bring on the joint pain and even severe recurring head aches. Over the years many treatments have been developed and many are quite effective. These include de programmers, night guards, NTI’s, jaw repositioners and  many others. They also include injections directly in the jaw joint. The presenter at the course introduced Botox as a way to reduce headaches and joint pain.

Botox was initially used for facial aesthetics and does so by reducing, temporarily, the ability of the muscle to contract completely. You could say that they weaken the muscles at the site of injection. For cosmetics this means a reduction of those pesky wrinkles that show more and more as we age (I mean mature). So, what does that have to do with head aches? Well it turns out that if the muscles we grind and clench with are temporarily weakened, the headaches and joint pain can be reduced and even go away for several months. In fact the first patient we treated had no headaches for four months. This was someone who had pain almost daily. As far as the cosmetic side, who better understands the muscles of the face and neck region than a dentist? And, lets face it, as a dentist, I give more injections daily than any other profession. In answer to the question “Botox in a dental office?”, what better place?