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TMJ – Muscle Relaxants

What is botulinum toxin A (btx)?

‘Botox’ is actually a brand name of only one type of medication that has Botulinum Toxin as the active ingredient. Other brands include ‘Dysport’ and ‘Xeomin’ and all these brands act in the same ways.

These medications are sterile, pharmaceutical-grade proteins that target part of the mechanism involved in muscle contraction. When these medications are administrated to a target muscle, the ability of that muscle to contract with the same strength is reduced. The higher the dose of medication, the greater the reduction in the ability of the muscle to contract and the more relaxed it becomes.

While the medication is eliminated from the body rapidly, the effect will last from several weeks to several months depending on the circumstances. After this time, the effects will completely wear off and the muscle will regain the ability to function as normal.

How does botulinum toxin A work for TMD/Bruxism?

After diagnosing that your bruxism/TMD/facial pain has a component this is related to the activity of muscles of the face, your dentist will determine the dose of medication required depending on the severity of your condition.

The medication is administered by an injection into the target muscles from the outside of the face, using very fine, sterile needles. The injection sites are specifically chosen to target the muscles that are contributing to your condition. By reducing the ability of these muscles to contract as forcefully there is thought to be a reduction in the tension placed on the TMJ and surrounding tissues, leading to relief pf symptoms including reduced teeth grinding.

Botox offers a reversible, temporary and minimally invasive treatment option and can also be used as a diagnostic tool by dentists when trying to determine the exact nature and origin of your pain.

What can I expect after the treatment?

Many patients do report that the injections do ‘sting’ while the medication is being administered, however this only lasts a few seconds. Immediately after treatment, the area may be red, bleed briefly and you may experience a slight tingle or itch for a few minutes before feeling completely normal. It is very important that you do not rub or manipulate the area of the injection for 4 hours.

The btx will begin to work after a few days and full results may not be felt for up to 2 weeks. For this reason you should schedule a review appointment for 2 weeks after receiving treatment, at which time a further dose maybe required depending on results achieved.

You will notice a softening of facial pain and tension, but you will still be able to perform normal jaw and facial movements, with no effect on your ability to eat, talk or smile.

Are there any potential problems?

Thankfully these medications have been shown to be very reliable and safe, yet all medications do have the potential to cause unwanted side effects/complications and your dentist will discuss these with you.

While problems are rare, the most common issues come from the injection process rather that the medication and can include redness, swelling, itching, bruising, bleeding and skin infection

The medication may affect a muscle that it was not intended to, or it may cause excessive relaxation of the target muscle. If this occurs then it is possible that the appearance of your smile, function/movement of your mouth may be affected.

Some people also report a general feeling of tiredness or ‘flu-like symptoms’ including a headache after receiving the treatment.


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