Botox, an FDA approved neurotoxin protein, has shown to be a relatively safe and effective method to treat and address symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
If other treatment methods have not provided you with relief of your TMJ symptoms, and you are looking for a non-invasive treatment option, Botox injections could be right for you!
Currently, Botox used to treat TMJ disorder symptoms is experimental, as the FDA has not approved Botox for use in TMJ disorders. However, a small 2012 study with 26 participants showed that Botox significantly reduced pain while increasing movements of the mouth for 3 months following the treatment. Two other studies (published in 2003 and 2008) conveyed improvements in TMJ symptoms for up to 90 percent of participants. It is important to note that these participants did not respond to alternative treatments and that more research is needed to understand Botox’s full range of uses, and its benefits and effectiveness for treating TMJ disorders symptoms.
Given these studies results, Botox may be a great alternative method to treat symptoms if other tried methods have not been successful. Some TMJ symptoms that Botox can help treat are jaw tension, headaches from grinding teeth, lockjaw from sever stress and more.
Some common side effects that typically occur within the first week of Botox are pain, redness / bruising at the injection site and muscle weakness. Other common side effects of using Botox for treating TMJ are headache, flu-like illness, nausea, respiratory infection, and temporary eyelid droop.
Due to the paralyzing effect on muscles that Botox has, there is a risk of causing a “fixed” smile that could last 6 – 8 weeks.
The treatment procedure of Botox is simple. It begins with a consultation with your health care provider to manage expectations and understand if it is right for you. During the consultation, the number of Botox injections is determined and pre and post-care instructions will be provided. The actual Botox procedure takes approximately 10 – 30 minutes in which the health care provider will inject Botox into symptom areas such as the forehead, temple, jaw muscles and other areas depending on your specific symptoms. The Botox injection may trigger a slight pain, similar to a bug bite or needle prick which can be relieved by a cold pack or numbing cream.
Following your first treatment, additional treatments will be scheduled. A minimum of three injection appointments over the course of around 6 months is typical. There is no down time for patients who use Botox to treat TMJ symptoms as they are able to continue their regular activities as soon as their appointment is over.
For best results following the Botox injections, it is advised for the patient to remain up-right for 4 hours and to avoid rubbing or massaging the injection areas for 24 hours.
Improvement of symptoms can occur as early as within 1-2 days but usually take around 1 week for most patients to feel relief.
Check with your healthcare insurer to determine if they cover Botox as a TMJ treatment method. Some health care insurers may cover TMJ Botox treatments, however because the FDA has not approved Botox for the treatment of TMJ, some may not cover Botox for this use.
During the consultation with your health care provider, the total costs involved will be determined and discussed. These costs are based on the severity of your symptoms, the number of injection areas needing treatment and the amount of product used at each injection site.
Given this, Botox treatment for TMJ can range from $500-$1,500.
It is always best to speak with your health care provider about treatment options for TMJ. There are a number of alternative surgical and nonsurgical treatment options to relieve TMJ symptoms and a combination of treatments may work well.
Non-surgical options include: physical therapy, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, oral splints or mouth guards, muscle relaxants, pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Surgical options include: open-joint surgery, arthroscopy, arthrocentesis, mandible surgery etc.