Botox - Adjuntive treatment for TMJ and Jaw Muscle Pain


Dear Dr. Steven Davidowitz,

I have been suffering from migraines and TMJ pain since I was a teenager.   I know I am a strong grinder and have been told that I have heavy jaw muscles. I have tried everything from face exercises with warm compresses to night guard appliances custom made by my dentist to prescription headache medications and I am still seeking something that will work.  I recently heard about the use of Botox for my condition.  How does that work?  Can it work for me?  


Heavy Jaw

Dear Heavy Jaw,

Botulinum toxin is a manufactured injectable medication used therapeutically to reduce the strength of targeted muscle tissues.  World famous for its beneficial action of perfecting wrinkles of the skin, Botox has a plethora of additional therapeutic benefits in medicine and dentistry.   

Botox can be used for a number of dental therapeutic procedures that can relieve pain in those patients that have been searching for relief for years.  For patients like yourself suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) and facial pain, the use of Botox can be beneficial in relieving pain.  When applied to a number of muscles of facial expression and muscles of biting, Botox helps to relieve muscles stress and brings welcome relief to those who have had much prior trouble getting relief.

The Temperomandibular Joint, commonly known as the TMJ, is located on both sides of the head, at the point where the jawbone meets the skull. The TMJ is used during talking, eating, swallowing, and other everyday activities. If this joint becomes displaced or is overworked through excessive teeth grinding, a person may suffer severe tension headaches, as well as sharp pain in the jaw and face.   Botox relieves jaw tension by affecting the muscles ability to engage in the powerful and often unconscious movement of the jaw that produces headaches and pain.

You are not alone.  It is estimated that up to 80% of adults have some form of TMJ pain or disorder and would benefit from treatment.  Over the years, there have been many treatments used to treat these disorders.  They ranged from the fabrication of custom night guards, the use of orthotics to psychological therapy.  Drug treatments such as anti-inflammatory agents, non-narcotic and narcotic pain medications, muscle relaxants, and even antidepressants, have all  been used by dentists in the never ending search to help their patients with TMJ pain. 

The Botox alternative treatment for TMJ disorders and jaw tension is usually quick, and effective. A non-surgical procedure, botox injections are administered in a dental office and treatment requires no hospital stay. Most patients experience noticeable improvement within one or two days of their first treatment, although relief can take up to a week.  The benefits of the Botox injections can last for up to four months.

Only the areas injected with Botox will be relaxed. Botox treatment for TMJ therapy does not travel and will not affect anywhere else in your body. The injections are mainly in the temporalis, frontalis and masseter muscles.  Additional sites may be injected with the Botulinum toxin, depending on the severity of the headaches and jaw pain. Not only will Botox relieve TMJ and jaw tension for many patients, the injections often eliminate headaches, as well, that result from teeth grinding.  In addition, in cases of severe stress, it can even minimize lock jaw.

A dentist trained in neuro-muscular disorders has the knowledge and training to identify and treat facial assymetries caused by muscle stress and imbalance. Utilizing in depth knowledge of the head and neck region together with aesthetic skills of symmetry and proportion, the aesthetic dentist, can utilize neurotoxin treatment in conjunction with night guards and muscle exercises, and help some serious disorders that have been left untreated for many years.


Dr. Steven Davidowitz


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New York Dentist