Jaw pain is becoming an increasingly common complaint with symptoms including grinding teeth, jaw pain, increased masseter size, and migraines. A novel new approach to over active masseter muscles in using botulinum toxin, more commonly known as Botox™.
Botox™ is well known for its anti-ageing effects and wrinkle reduction properties, but it is also being used in clinic for therapeutic reasons. People all over the world are getting Botox™ treatments to help reduce migraine severity and occurrence as well as reducing grinding to protect teeth integrity.
Botulinum toxin works by acting on the receptors of the muscles. It cleaves the top end of the Acetyl-choline receptors blocking the bodies natural ability to transmit signals to the muscle. What does this mean? If a signal can't get through, the muscle doesn't get the command to move. It's like cutting a telephone line. That one form of communication is temporarily gone.
Now, this effect doesn't last forever. The body immediately starts to build new receptors right beside the old one and even starts to repair the cleaved receptor. In 3-4 months time, new receptors are ready to go and the old receptor has been repaired. Communication between the brain and the muscle is intact and the muscle can once again start taking commands and move.
- Sweating palms, feet, arm pits (hyperhydrosis)
- TMJ or Jaw Clenching
- Spastic Muscles
- Local Overactive Muscle
So how does it help with migraines?
Muscle contractions of the head is a common reason for migraines. The additional pressure or pull from specific muscles can lead to a tension headache that can turn into a chronic migraine. Has anyone ever explained their migraine pattern to you before? Many will state that the pain starts at the back of the neck and moves over top towards the eyes. This is a very common tension headache pattern.
How does it help with TMJ?
Very similar to migraines, TMJ is a result of excess clenching or straining of the masseter and temporalis muscles. Unlike migraines or facial aesthetics using Botox™, we don't want to take away the entire ability of the muscle to move. We want to reduce the strength only.
As the masseter is a large and strong muscle, the starting dose for most is a minimum of 10-15 units per side. This dose reduces the amount of receptors activated by the body and reducing (not eliminating) the strength of the bite. The end results is a reduced ability to clench the jaw with a reduction or total elimination of TMJ pain.
Botox™ is an amazing tool that has some outstanding therapeutic effects when used in a medical setting. It is one of the most well documented medications on the market today and more people are seeking it out for pain related issues. Yes, it is still incredibly popular for aesthetic and anti-ageing purposes but the use for therapeutic reasons is growing.
Disclaimer- this blog is for information purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat. Please talk to your family doctor or naturopathic doctor if you have any questions about Botox™ and it's uses.