Temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ can be difficult to diagnose, difficult to manage, and can damage your own quality of life. Unlike the flu or a broken bone, TMJ isn’t a single disorder or symptom but a symptom complex describing certain types of pain affecting the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the skull and allows for two ranges of motion. The complexity of these disorders has not only baffled doctors, but patients as well. The severity of the symptoms can vary widely, and many who experience symptoms like jaw pain, frequent headaches, or facial or neck pain may find themselves searching for relief for some time.
Recently, Botox injections for TMJ treatment have more and more popular as a possible treatment, though many patients should be wary.
What Are Botox Injections?
Botulinum toxin, otherwise known as Botox, is a neurotoxic protein which paralyzes underlying muscles, and disrupts neurotransmitters which send out pain signals. What tests have shown is this can provide immediate pain relief when injected straight into the temporomandibular joint, though studies are incredibly limited. Unfortunately for patients, Botox injections are not a permanent fix. While they do provide temporary pain relief, the effects don’t last, and the injections themselves can be dangerous.
The botulinum toxin is a highly potent poison that can have several negative side effects. Just one gram of the substance could kill over 1 million people, and two kilograms could kill the entire human population. Botulism is a common illness caused by the botulinum toxin, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other neurological symptoms that can last up to six weeks.
Although botulinum toxin is very dangerous, Botox injections are actually very safe when used by an experienced injector. However, we don’t know the long-term consequences of using Botox to treat TMJ. While Botox injections do provide temporary pain relief to those suffering from TMJ, it may not be the best choice for long-term treatment.
Other Available Treatments
If you suffer from TMJ symptoms, it can sometimes feel like your body is against you. But there are several drug-free treatment options available proven to relieve TMJ pain. In most cases, TMJ can be resolved with jaw relaxation techniques, eating a soft food diet, and by scheduling a consultation with your dentist. Together, you and your dentist can go through your medical history to discovery the root cause of your TMJ, and discuss a treatment plan catered to you.
During your consultation, your dentist will use a TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit which relaxes the muscles around your jaw, and allows your dentist to make more accurate measurements. Once measurements have been taken, your dentist might offer you a mouth splint designed to reposition your jaw during sleep so that it can begin to heal. Regularly practicing jaw relaxation techniques during this time can also help improve your recovery.
TMJ dentist Dr. Adam Hahn in Columbia, SC has experience helping people with all stages and types of TMJ. He can help you, too. Please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.