How Botox® Can Help with TMJ

How Botox® Can Help with TMJ

Your mouth’s function hinges on your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — literally. It’s the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and lets you open and close that jaw to chew, yawn, and speak. If the joint becomes damaged in any way, it can cause a localized pain condition called temporomandibular joint syndrome, or a collection of symptoms known as temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The pain doesn’t always remain localized; it can radiate from the joint into the mouth and head, causing pain in the face and triggering headaches and migraines.

If it hurts when you chew, if you have a sore spot just in front of the ear, or if you feel pain spreading from one region of your jaw to another, Dr. Indra Quagliata at Smylique Dentistry in Rochester, New York, can diagnose whether or not you have a TMJ problem and, if so, determine the best way to treat it, including with Botox®.

The potential causes and specific symptoms of TMJ problems

Sometimes the cause of a TMJ problem is obvious — a direct injury to the jaw stemming from a blow or a fall. However, in most cases, the cause isn’t readily apparent. For many people, the discomfort may be a combination of factors that includes genetics, arthritis (joint degeneration), and teeth grinding; or even poor posture, stress, and a repetitive injury from the rapid up-and-down motion of chewing gum.

TMJ problems also produce a number of symptoms. These include:

If you have clicking and popping but don’t experience pain, limited range of motion, or a locked jaw, you probably don’t require any treatment.

Traditional TMJ treatments

Sometimes, TMDs resolve without treatment, but if your symptoms persist, Dr. Quagliata may recommend any of a number of conservative treatment options.

Medications

The first course of action is taking OTC pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications, which can relieve your joint’s pain and discomfort. If these aren’t effective, Dr. Quagliata may prescribe prescription-strength ibuprofen to tackle joint inflammation; a tricyclic antidepressant to relieve pain, control teeth clenching and grinding, and help with sleep; or a brief course of a muscle relaxant, which calms the muscle spasms that lead to pain.

Non-medication options

Patient education and counseling are good places to start. They can help you understand the behaviors that cause or aggravate your pain, so you can learn to avoid them.

Perhaps the widest-used therapy, though, is a night guard, a version of the mouthguard you’d wear for playing sports. This soft plastic device fits over your teeth, preventing you from clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth when you sleep, thereby relaxing the TM joint.

Physical therapy is another possibility. Exercises are targeted at stretching and strengthening your jaw muscles, and ultrasound, moist heat, and ice can all help to relax the joint.

How Botox can help with TMJ problems

Dr. Quagliata also uses Botox to treat resistant symptoms. Botox is a neurotoxin that comes from the Clostridium botulinum bacterium. It’s the same toxin that causes food poisoning (botulism), but when purified, diluted, and administered by a trained professional like Dr. Quagliata, it’s completely safe.

Botox works by temporarily paralyzing the TM joint’s muscles, preventing the contractions that cause pain. The injections are effective for about three to four months, which gives your jaw ample time to relax and heal, but if you aren’t sufficiently improved after that time, the doctor can repeat the treatment.

If you’re struggling with jaw joint pain and discomfort, it’s time to come into the office to determine if your TM joint’s the culprit. Give Smylique Dentistry a call at 585-207-2152 to set up a consultation with Dr. Quagliata, or book online with us today.

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