What Is the Purpose of Botox in Dentistry?
When people think of Botox, they tend to imagine an individual who uses injections to eliminate wrinkles from their face. In the world of dentistry, though, Botox serves a different purpose. While the majority associate the liquid with being able to tighten the muscles of the face, it can also be used to lessen the pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
What Is Botox?
The word “Botox” is actually a trademarked term for a formula of botulinum toxin. The toxin inhibits the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. Acetylcholine is a compound emitted by the nervous system that tells muscles when to contract. By interrupting this process, Botox stops muscles from contracting properly for a period of up to three months. When applied to the joints of the jaw, Botox injections can stop the muscles from contracting and causing pain and suffering for individuals who suffer from TMD.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
TMD can actually refer to multiple disorders that occur in the face and around the jaw. Disorders can be attributed to a variety of causes, including dental misalignment, muscle tightness and contractions, and the bones grinding against one another. Individuals who suffer from any form of TMD often experience the same symptoms, including jaw popping or clicking, trouble chewing, swelling and tenderness in the face, the jaw locking in an open or shut position, and pain.
Up to 16% of contemporary dentists now use Botox in their practices to help alleviate the pain of TMD sufferers. Injections to the muscles around the jaw can prevent tightness and contractions and help ease the joint, making it easier to open and close the mouth. The temporary muscle paralysis also reduces pain and can be used while a dentist creates an alternative treatment plan.
Other Purposes and Benefits
Besides being efficient in the treatment of TMD, skilled dentists are also able to use Botox to treat common conditions like bruxism or to facilitate orthodontic therapy. In bruxism, patients have a tendency to clench or grind their teeth, particularly when asleep.
A trained dentist can inject Botox directly into the masseter and temporalis muscles to lessen the intensity of contractions and make it easier to perform basic tasks. The dentist needs to be careful, as too much can make it difficult to perform regular tasks and too little will have no effect.
When it comes to orthodontic therapy, as well as prosthetic or appliance therapy, Botox is once again used to relax the muscles. However, it can also be implemented to train the oral muscles to accept the appliances used to correct misalignments and malocclusions, making it easier for patients to wear items like dentures or receive palate correction.
Botox in Dentistry
Although some people might be scared by the concept of temporary muscle paralysis, it is actually highly beneficial and can treat a broad range of conditions. Patients who have struggled with their jaws, bruxism, or a similar problem can seek an experienced dentist to receive assistance.