Bruxism and Botox

By Brian Arslanian, MD

Are you chewing through mouth guards? Are you sick of hearing your dentist tell you that you GRIND your teeth? Are you racking up thousands of dollars in dental bills? What about those headaches and migraines? Are they associated with your teeth grinding? If this sounds like you, then Botox might be the next thing and last thing on your list of remedies to solve this chronic, painful process.

So what is Bruxism?

Bruxism in the medical term for teeth grinding and clenching that causes facial pain, headaches, tooth damage, and chronic TMJ issues. Many people don’t even know they suffer from it until their dentist comments on the fact that their teeth are being ground down to a pulp. Most people grind their teeth at night when they are unaware.

Who suffers from this?

Some studies say as much as 1 in 3 people suffer from teeth grinding. It can be triggered in people experiencing anxiety, increased tension, anger pain or frustration.

What can be done?

Typically patients are diagnosed by their dentist and then recommended to buy expensive appliances or mouth guards. One suggestion I might offer, before you go out and buy a $400 mouth guard, stop by CVS and pick up a $10 mouth guard and try it out. If you are like me and most people, you wont tolerate wearing the mouth guard every night, or you will simply forget. At least you saved yourself $390. Some patients with severe Bruxism will even “chew through” their mouth guards in a couple months because of how severe their grinding is.

So how does Botox help?

Most grinders will develop hypertrophy, or growth and strengthening , of the chewing muscles. Specifically these are the paired masseter and temporalis Muscles. Just like lifting weights at the gym can lead to increased muscle bulk, increased grinding of the teeth can cause the muscles of chewing to increase in size and strength. This leads to a vicious cycle that can be hard to control.

I will typically examine my patients to see if they in fact have enlarged masseter muscles and whether they would benefit from Botox. The Botox is then injected into the masseter muscles during a 5 minute procedure that is almost painless. Within about a week the Botox will have kicked in and start weakening the muscles. It usually gives quick relief in that first week and continues to work for several months. Over time the muscle will slowly start to shrink back to normal size. We believe that after a year or two of treatment we can break the cycle and triggering, and eventually get you off the Botox treatments.

I heard that the Botox can actually change your face shape?

Yes this is true. Many teeth grinders get such enlarged masseter muscles that the face begins to look chubby and squared. This is often unattractive, especially in a female patient. By weakening the muscles, the Botox allows the muscles to return to their normal size. This has an effect of slenderizing the face and creating an oval lower face rather than a square shape, which is almost always more attractive.

How do I sign up?

Please just contact our office to set up your thorough consultation to see if you are a candidate for Botox to treat Bruxism and TMJ related issues. We can help you get back to your life you had before Bruxism took it over.

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