Bruxism, the clenching of your teeth at night, is likely the most common sleep disorder, affecting perhaps 15% of Americans. During sleep, people may clench their jaw with two or more times the force they use when consciously biting.

The Effects of Bruxism

Bruxism sufferers often awake with serious headaches. Left untreated, bruxism can cause chipped, cracked, or worn teeth. It can also lead to TMJ, as the forces associated with bruxism can displace the cushioning disk that separates the jaw from the skull and helps to ensure smooth movement of the temporomandibular joint.

The most common current bruxism treatment is a nighttime mouthguard that can prevent damage to the teeth. However, the jaw muscles still clench, and can displace the temporomandibular joint disc, not to mention cause headaches and jaw soreness from the muscle tension, which is where BOTOX comes in.

How BOTOX Might Treat Bruxism

BOTOX and other botulinum toxin medications work by creating what is known as a “flaccid paralysis” the muscle. This means the muscles is less able to move, but it remains limp, not clenched. Injection of botulinum toxin into the muscles of a patient may prevent the incidence of bruxism by making your jaw muscles less able to contract.

When properly used, botulinum toxin injections may help reduce nighttime bruxism without negative effects. Patients say it doesn’t result in numbness or make it harder to consciously move the jaw, although a couple patients in an early trial saw cosmetic changes in their smile.

This treatment option is still in its infancy. The effectiveness of the drug in this application has only been demonstrated, not effectively proven, and approval of botulinum toxin for this application is a long way off, but it’s promising that we might soon have another tool to prevent TMJ.

Of course, once you’ve developed TMJ, or if your bruxism is due in part to a bad bite, BOTOX won’t work. And BOTOX treatments have to be repeated regularly to maintain effectiveness.

If you suffer from bruxism or TMJ, please contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today to schedule an evaluation and learn what treatments are available for you.