You’ve heard of Botox® for wrinkles and lines on your face. But you may not know that this popular injectable got its start in medical, not cosmetic, applications.
In the 1970s, scientists were using the main ingredient in Botox, botulinumtoxinA, to correct crossed eyes and eye spasms in monkeys, and they realized it also smoothed out the vertical lines between their eyebrows. Botox Cosmetic has made a huge splash and is still one of the most frequently performed aesthetic procedures (more than 7 million a year) in America.
But Botox is just as impressive when it comes to addressing medical concerns, such as muscle spasms, overactive bladder, migraines, and excessive sweating.
Here at Aesthetic Surgery Center in San Francisco, California, our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Macdonald, also uses Botox to treat the debilitating pain of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
What’s causing your TMJ disorder?
Your temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to your skull. Anything that changes its position, damages it, or causes it stress can lead to pain, including:
- Teeth clenching
- Teeth grinding
- Misaligned bite (maloclusion)
- Chewing gum excessively
- Poor posture
Symptoms of a TMJ disorder range from achiness and pain to popping sounds and locking. If you have a TMJ disorder, the first course of action is to try some simple remedies. Ice packs can reduce swelling and ease discomfort. If stress is the cause, massage therapy or meditation may help.
But if conservative approaches don’t seem to work, it may be time to step up your treatment to Botox.
How Botox eases your TMJ disorder
While Botox is not yet approved by the FDA for use as a treatment for TMJ disorder, it’s been approved for other similar muscular disorders. Physicians across the country use it as an off-label treatment for TMJ problems.
The reason Botox works so well for many TMJ disorder sufferers is the same reason it helped the monkeys’ eyes uncross and stop twitching — the toxin relaxes muscles and stops them from contracting.
If you have a TMJ disorder, this is good news, because it means the muscle in your jaw can let go and stop spasming or contracting uncontrollably.
Botox bonus: It’s fast and it lasts
For all the suffering you’ve endured with your TMJ disorder, it may surprise and delight you to hear that this treatment is painless and quick — you’re in and out in about half an hour.
And although Botox wears off eventually, most people go four to six months before they start feeling twinges of the symptoms coming back. But a quick visit for a booster shot buys you another half a year of pain-free living. Some of our patients even report that Botox helps retrain their jaw muscles to relax, and they never need another injection again.
Not only is Dr. Macdonald an experienced specialist who can help you find the lasting pain relief you need, but he’s also an advocate of Botox for TMJ disorders because he uses it for his own jaw pain.
When you’re ready to unclench for good, call us to schedule an appointment or schedule one online today.