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Although Botox sometimes has a bad reputation, doctors use the drug for a number of cosmetic and medical purposes. There are several formulations of products, which come in toxins A and B, used to treat everything from crow’s feet to migraines. Dr. Eftekhari may also recommend botulinum toxin for severe cases of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) stiffness.
What Is TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint disorders can cause the following symptoms:
- Tenderness along the jaw
- Pain in either TMJ
- Pain and aching around the ear
- Difficulty chewing
- Joint locking when opening or closing the mouth
If you have pain or decreased functionality due to TMJ disorders and other methods haven’t provided significant relief, it may be time to consider botulinum toxin under the care of a licensed physician.
What Is Botox?
Botulinum toxin weakens or paralyzes muscles. When used in small, safe doses it can relax muscles and reduce the appearance of some fine lines and wrinkles. Botox is made from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which also causes food poisoning. However, doctors use small doses for beneficial outcomes that include medical and cosmetic uses.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the toxin to treat some health issues, such as migraines, excessive sweating, eye muscle disorders and TMD.
Why Use Botulinum Toxin for TMD?
The COVID-19 pandemic and the current political situations are just two things that have raised anxiety and stress levels. Stress takes on many forms and affects our bodies in different ways, including TMJ disorders that develop from teeth grinding and jaw clenching. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, there has been a rise in TMJ disorders since the beginning of the pandemic.
The study suggests that more people are grinding their teeth and developing TMD. The temporomandibular joint is a hinge connecting your jaw to your skull. Constantly clenching your jaw can result in disorders such as locking of the hinge and stiffness in the joint. This can cause pain and impact the functionality of the joint and jaw. For those experiencing TMD-related pain, alternative solutions include botulinum toxin injections.
Botox for TMJ
The masseter muscle connects the lower jawbone or mandible to the cheekbone. Those with TMJ disorders often have a bulging masseter. When you develop a TMD from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, this muscle becomes overly developed, often resulting in a square jawline. Many people find it hard to relax this overactive muscle, even though the tension can cause side effects such as headaches, pain and stiffness.
Botox injections can relax the masseter. This can help you reduce grinding and clenching. The formulation of botulinum toxin used to relax muscles varies by the specific problem and the preference of your doctor. The FDA approval for botulinum does not specifically list TMJ disorders, but it does include facial muscle relaxation.
Is Botox Treatment for TMJ Expensive?
The main factors regarding the cost of these injections include the amount of toxin needed to relax the muscle and how many injections you receive. According to recent articles, a person getting 20 units of botulinum for each TMJ could spend $12 per unit or $480 for one treatment. However, the amount used, price fluctuations, and number of injections all impact your actual costs.
How Long Do the Effects Last?
When used for TMJ treatment, injections could last between three and four months. Dr. Eftekhari and our staff can provide more specific estimates based on your metabolism and other personal indicators. Some people require more units of the toxin and others experience the numbing effects for much longer than others.
Having the injections administered by a maxillofacial surgeon may increase the efficacy of the botulinum toxin. McKinney, TX head and neck surgeons have a deep understanding of the functionality and structures of the face and neck, including the temporomandibular joints and jaw areas.
TMJ disorders have a number of different causes that may include arthritis, injury, tension, teeth grinding and other conditions and diseases. The doctor may suggest other methods to treat tension in the jawline prior to recommending Botox. Typically, botulinum toxin injections would be considered a last resort for chronic cases of TMJ pain that last longer than three to four months. For example, muscle relaxants, mouth guards and lifestyle changes can sometimes alleviate your pain and discomfort.
Does Insurance Cover Botox?
Botulinum toxin is most often used for cosmetic purposes. In those cases, many insurance policies would not cover the procedures. Because the FDA doesn’t specifically list TMJ treatment and its approved uses of the toxin, your insurance may not cover it. However, TMJ problems also contribute to migraines and other FDA-approved disorders. If this applies to you, your insurance may pay for the injections.
Check with your individual insurance carrier to find out how much of the treatment might be eligible for coverage. Remember to ask your insurance company whether your policy covers this treatment under therapeutic procedures.
If you suffer from TMJ or conditions that may benefit from botulinum injections, feel free to call our office for more information on whether this treatment can help you. We would be happy to discuss the process for processing new patients and the various payment methods that we accept.
At first, some clients resist the idea of injecting a known toxin into their bodies. Let us help you understand the various risks and benefits so you can make an informed decision. Your safety, comfort and confidence all mean a lot to us. So, don’t hesitate to bring all your questions with you.
Do you think that Botox is right for you? Call NextGen OMS today to schedule a consultation in McKinney, TX for the cosmetic or medical use of botulinum toxin to improve your comfort or appearance.