Can botulinum toxin A (more commonly known as Botox®) be used to help TMJ disorders?

The FDA has approved the use of botulinum toxin A for cosmetic purposes, to smooth lines and wrinkles.  It has also been approved to treat certain medical conditions, including migraine headache, but it has yet to be approved for the treatment of TMJ disorders.  However, it has been found to be effective in calming the muscles that sometimes become overactive with teeth grinding and clenching which can help with pain and headaches related to TMJ dysfunction.


How does it work?

Botulinum toxin A is injected into the muscle with a very fine gauge needle.  It doesn’t actually affect the muscle but rather blocks transmitters to the nerves relaxing the muscles.   There is no loss of sensory feeling.


What are the limitations of Botox® for TMJ?

TMJ disorder is complex.  Though relaxing the muscles with Botox® is one element to providing relief, it is not a cure.  Understanding the underlying cause can help our doctors recommend treatment for lasting results.  Treatment may include physical therapy, bite splints, home remedies and possibly bite correction with orthodontic treatment.


How long does treatment last?

It may take up to a few days to notice the effect of Botox® then it should last 3 to 4 months.  You may notice with each treatment that the effects last longer.


How much does it cost?

It depends on how much you need, we charge by the unit.  Our doctors will need to perform an examination and diagnose the problem first.  Call to schedule, we don’t charge for the initial evaluation. If it’s determined that Botox® can help, we can go over exact cost and treatment can be performed at this appointment.


Does insurance cover it?

Currently, insurance does not cover Botox® for the treatment of TMJ disorder.


Is Botox® Better than pain medicine such as muscle relaxers to treat TMJ dysfunction?

For pain and muscle tension related to TMJ dysfunction, it can be.  What’s good about Botox® is that it targets only those muscles that need relaxing instead of treating the whole body like an oral medication would.


Will it change the shape of my face?

In some patients, if the masseter muscles (lower, outer cheek area) are over developed, then Botox® injections in the masseters, over time, may soften the appearance of those muscles thereby giving the face more of a V shape.