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Bothered by Teeth Grinding? Botox Can Help

Recurrent, unconscious teeth grinding — a common disorder known as bruxism — can occur when you’re asleep, awake, or both. Without early intervention, persistent teeth grinding can cause major oral health complications, including cracked teeth and chronic jaw dysfunction and pain. 

At Stuart Lerner, MD in Kailua, Hawaii, family medicine specialist Dr. Lerner and our team of board-certified providers take an integrative approach to bruxism that aims to help you put a stop to the involuntary problem and prevent worsening dental and chronic pain concerns. 

Here, we explain how a simple and unexpected treatment approach — Botox® injection therapy — can help you gain the upper hand over bruxism for good. 

Understanding bruxism 

It’s normal to reflexively grind your teeth or clench your jaw at times. While occasional teeth grinding doesn’t usually cause problems, however, a chronic gnashing problem can harm your teeth, jaw muscles, and the pair of high-use “sliding hinge” temporomandibular joints (TMJs) that connect each side of your jaw to your skull. 

While bruxism is a common health effect of chronic stress or an unmanaged anxiety disorder, it can also be triggered by sleep problems, antidepressant medication use, and lifestyle habits like alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and excessive caffeine intake. 

You may be affected by bruxism at night as you sleep, throughout the day during moments of stress, or both: 

Awake bruxism

Daytime teeth grinding and jaw clenching is often a product of intense focus or persistent emotional issues like stress, anxiety, or anger. People with awake bruxism are more likely to notice the problem and develop coping mechanisms to stop. 

Asleep bruxism

Nighttime teeth grinding happens while you sleep. This type of near-continuous clenching is very problematic because most people are completely unaware it’s happening — and because the unconscious action can place your teeth, TMJs, and jaw muscles under 250 pounds of damaging stress for hours on end. 

Treat bruxism with Botox

You probably recognize Botox as the popular wrinkle reduction treatment that helps smooth out deep vertical brow furrows, minimize the appearance of horizontal forehead creases, and erase fine lines around the eye area (crow’s feet). 

But did you know that the very same mechanisms which make Botox so effective at reducing wrinkles also make it a potent treatment for easing jaw tension and overcoming bruxism? 

Refined from the natural bacterium Clostridium botulinum, Botox contains tiny amounts of a highly purified botulinum toxin protein. When injected at precise points in your facial anatomy, this therapeutic agent blocks targeted nerve signals to achieve specific results. 

To reduce the chronic jaw joint and muscle tension that perpetuate bruxism, Botox therapy blocks the specific nerve signals that keep the muscles around your jaw joints in an ongoing state of tension, stiffness, or rigidity. A few well-placed Botox injections can provide prompt bruxism relief that lasts for three months or longer.  

What to expect from Botox

With just a few tiny Botox injections, you can attain near-instant, long-lasting relief for jaw tension and pain that eases bruxism and makes it easier to benefit from standard treatment modalities like daily physical therapy stretches and nightly mouth guard wear. 

Here’s what to expect from each step of the process:

Before getting Botox

When you schedule your Botox session, it’s important to give a detailed list of any medications you’re taking. To avoid potential interactions and side effects, we may ask you to discontinue taking certain drugs (including blood thinners, muscle relaxants, and sleeping aids) for up to a week before your appointment.  

Otherwise, Botox requires virtually no advanced preparation or post-procedural downtime. You can resume normal activities as soon as your bruxism treatment session is over. 

During your session

The treatment itself is fast, minimally invasive, and virtually painless: Through a series of tiny injections, we deliver small doses of Botox to precise, predetermined points on and around your jaw joints. From start to finish, the average session takes about 20 minutes.

To prevent Botox from spreading beyond the targeted jaw muscles and joints, it’s important to avoid rubbing or massaging the treatment area for 24 hours. 

After Botox therapy

The pain-disrupting, tension-reducing effects of Botox begin to take full effect within 24-48 hours, and you can expect those effects can last for three months or longer. Periodic follow-up sessions can help you maintain continued bruxism relief for much longer.  

Ready to find out how Botox can help you gain the upper hand over bruxism? We can help. Call or click online to schedule a visit at Stuart Lerner, MD in Kailua, Hawaii today.  

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