Do you often have pain or aching in your jaw? Notice yourself unconsciously clenching your jaw? Or do you grind your teeth at night? With the world we are living in now, we find more and more of our patients are suffering from bruxism due to stress.  

Bruxism is an abnormal clenching or grinding of the teeth either while awake or sleeping. TMJ disorder is a common problem causing pain and improper functioning of the muscles and joints that attach the lower jaw to the skull. Bruxism may be the cause or the result of TMJ. Causes of TMJ include injury to the teeth/jaw, misalignment of the teeth and jaw, teeth grinding and clenching, poor posture, stress, anxiety, arthritis and gum chewing. 

The masseter muscles often become enlarged and bulky with overuse related to bruxism. Not only can one experience physical aching but the muscle itself enlarges which contributes to a more rounded appearance in the lower face.  

Some common signs and symptoms of bruxism include: 

  • Teeth clenching and grinding 
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose 
  • Worn tooth enamel 
  • Increased tooth sensitivity/pain 
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw 
  • Pain including facial pain and earaches  
  • Chronic headaches or migraines, often that start in the temples 
  • Sleep disturbance including sleep apnea 
  • Squared jawline 

What are the treatment options? 

Your dentist will likely recommend a mouth guard and you should do it. Protect your teeth! Alternatively, neurotoxin injections have been proven to be an effective treatment for treating TMJ disorder. Many treatments such as NSAIDs and muscle relaxants do not treat the cause of the problem. While mouth guards protect your teeth, it doesn’t stop your pain and headaches. 

By injecting Botox directly into the masseter muscle (the large muscle that moves the jaw), the muscle is weakened enough to stop involuntary clenching & grinding of the jaw. This significantly relaxes the muscle and reduces the wear of your teeth. Symptoms such as earaches, facial pain, and headaches improve. And bonus, reducing the size of the masseter muscle also slims the face: yes, please! 

It typically takes ~30-60 units of Botox on each side to weaken the masseter and stop the clenching & grinding. It lasts 3-9 months and is an amazing treatment for those with TMJ. 

This is a game changer and life (and teeth) saving treatment for many!