When patients struggle with chronic bruxism or TMD symptoms, one of the first solutions many dentists recommend is a custom nightguard. Although effective, nightguards do not always address the source of TMJ pain and they require daily compliance from patients.
On the other hand, therapeutic Botulinum Toxin injections (such as Botox) – which are especially notable for their aesthetic benefits like wrinkle reduction—can be just as, if not more, effective. But fewer dentists are aware of the benefits of thereapeutic Botulinum Toxin treatment and so this treatment option is not always offered to patients compared to nightguards or splints.
Treating TMD: The Debilitating Pain
Although clinical temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is fairly rare, it’s not uncommon for patients to exhibit TMD-like symptoms such as TMJ pain, frequent headaches, muscle soreness, earaches, joint crepitation, and limited range of motion. These painful conditions are often attributed to related issues such as bruxism. As such, TMJ treatment should be tailored to address the source of discomfort for the best long-term prognosis.
Treating TMD: The Convenience of Nightguards
The simple fabrication and delivery process of nightguards makes them a go-to solution for managing patient TMJ cases. As long as patients cooperate with impressions and accept price points, nightguards are a perfectly reasonable choice. However, patients often become uncompliant at home with nightly wear, either because of the bulky fit or simply remembering to wear it. As such, the results can vary significantly.
Treating TMD: Tools Available to Dentists
Dentists know better than anyone that there is no one perfect treatment for every patient. By having multiple options in their dental tool kit, dentists can better facilitate a personalized approach to patient pain and bruxism management. Aside from nightguards and bite splints, Botox injectable therapy is one of those elements.
Treating TMD: Benefits of Botox for Relaxed Muscle Activity
Botox functions as a natural muscle relaxer when applied as directed. Not only does it work to prevent deep creases in the skin from repeated muscle contractions, but it also works similarly to manage TMD and TMJ pain symptoms.
After therapeutic applications of Botox to the TMJ area, patients experience a gradual relaxing of muscle tension. No additional prescriptions or nightguards are required, so compliance improves, and long-term results are more successful. Additionally, botulinum toxin can be administered every 3-6 months or as needed to maintain results. Such benefits can even be helpful before dental implant placement for improved osseointegration at the surgical site.
Treating TMD: Experience is Key
Many dentists offer nightguards in their practice as a protective and palliative solution for people with chronic bruxism. But only those dentists with more advanced training in the aesthetic and therapeutic applications of Botox are also able to provide injectable therapy options to their patients.
From proper marking and placement of injection sites to the desired dosage, closely supervised and intensive hands-on training (8+ patients) are crucial to the success of Botox therapeutic use. Dentists who choose to complete training as advanced Botox practitioners can facilitate a more holistic approach to patient care, not to mention open up opportunities for improved production via elective aesthetic services.