What to Expect When Getting Botox for Your TMJ

Jan 12, 2023
What to Expect When Getting Botox for Your TMJ
It can be frustrating when TMJ pain persists despite the usual treatment solutions. When medication, physical therapy, and wearing a mouth guard don’t offer effective relief, it may be time to try Botox® injections. Here’s what you can expect.

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are a pair of “sliding hinge” joints that connect each side of your jawbone to your skull. When your TMJs are healthy, you don’t give them much thought — you can eat, talk, and open your mouth effortlessly and without pain.

But for an estimated 11-12 million people in the United States, TMJ dysfunction and pain is a chronic and distressing problem that can limit jaw movement, make it hard to eat, and trigger moderate to severe jaw, neck, ear, and head pain.

It can be frustrating when jaw pain persists despite first-line TMJ treatment solutions. When taking medication, wearing a custom mouth guard, and performing physical therapy exercises don’t provide effective relief, we can help.

At Vida Dental Spa in Whitestone, New York, Dr. Maria-Teresa Ioannou and our skilled team offer near-immediate relief for TMJ pain with a few well-placed Botox® injections. Here’s how it works and what you can expect from the process.

Understanding chronic TMJ pain 

Often, the first sign of TMJ dysfunction isn’t jaw pain — it’s a disconcerting popping sensation or audible clicking sound in the jaw joints when talking, yawning, or chewing. Jaw and facial pain may emerge soon after, followed by new and worsening symptoms without proper care. 

TMJ dysfunction may cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Acute pain in one or both jaw joints
  • Jaw joints that are tender to the touch
  • Pain that radiates into the face or neck
  • Stiff or exceptionally tight jaw muscles
  • Persistent inner ear pain or tenderness 
  • Chewing difficulty and/or discomfort
  • Unattributable tooth pain or sensitivity

In some cases, TMJ dysfunction can progress to the point of causing severely restricted jaw joint motion, chronic headache pain, and even permanent bite misalignment. 

How Botox alleviates TMJ pain 

You may know Botox as the popular wrinkle treatment that helps reduce the appearance of deep vertical brow furrows, horizontal forehead creases, and fine lines around the eye area (crow’s feet). But did you know that the same mechanisms which allow Botox to smooth out wrinkles can also work to alleviate persistent TMJ pain?

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

To alleviate TMJ discomfort, Botox blocks the specific nerve signals that keep the muscles around your jaw joints in a perpetual state of tension, stiffness, or rigidity. A few well-placed Botox injections can provide prompt TMJ pain relief lasting for three or four months.

What to expect from the process

While Botox doesn’t rectify the underlying cause of TMJ, it does offer significant and lasting pain relief that increases your quality of life and makes it easier to partake in other helpful treatment modalities, including daily physical therapy stretches and exercises. The process is simple: 

Before getting Botox

Botox requires virtually no advanced preparation or post-procedural downtime — you can resume normal activities as soon as your appointment is over. To keep yourself as relaxed as possible during your treatment, it helps to schedule your session on a day when you don’t have other pressing appointments or errands.

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

During the procedure

The procedure itself is quick, minimally invasive, and relatively painless — using a series of injections with thin needles, we deliver small doses of Botox to precise, predetermined points on and around your jaw joints. On average, the entire treatment takes about 20 minutes.

Although most people experience little to no discomfort when getting Botox injections, we can apply topical numbing cream before your treatment if you’re worried about feeling pain during the brief needle insertion.

After your treatment

To keep Botox from spreading beyond the treatment area, don’t rub or massage the side of your face or TMJ area for 24 hours. You can expect the injections to begin taking full effect within 24-48 hours, and those effects can last for three months or longer. Periodic follow-up sessions can help you maintain continued TMJ pain relief for much longer.

Do you have questions about Botox for TMJ pain? We have answers. Call or click online today to book an appointment with Dr. Ioannou at Vida Dental Spa in Whitestone, New York.