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Botox for Bruxism, Teeth Grinding & Jaw Clenching 

If you experience bruxism — teeth grinding or jaw clenching — Botulinum Toxin (more commonly known as botox) might be an option for you. 

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Bruxism is a condition characterized by grinding or clenching your teeth. You may have subconscious bruxism, which can occur when you grind or clench your teeth while you’re awake or you may grind or clench your teeth in your sleep.

Stress, age, other health disorders, and hereditary bruxism may be risk factors in developing it yourself.

botox for bruxism

While a mild case of bruxism may not be cause for concern (and, therefore, may not require treatment), if you leave bruxism untreated, it can become more frequent and more severe. More severe side effects of bruxism include:

  • Jaw disorders
  • Sore jaw
  • Tension headaches
  • Earaches
  • Tooth enamel damage
  • Tooth damage
  • Crown damage
  • Facial pain
  • Sleep apnea
  • Temporomandibular joint pain, which can lead to temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) over time

Botox, however, can help treat bruxism. Botox is an effective treatment that basically freezes your facial muscles to prevent you from grinding or clenching your jaw.

What is Botulinum Toxin & How Does It Work?

Botulinum toxin (also known as botox) is an exotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In short, it blocks acetylcholine release from cholinergic nerve endings into the neuromuscular junction. This ultimately freezes, or paralyzes, the muscles.

A botox injection blocks specific nerve signals that make your muscles contract. It lasts for about three to six months. People get them in order to relax their muscles and, therefore, temporarily reduce wrinkles (and prevent further wrinkles). But you can also get botox to treat bruxism.

Botox for teeth grinding and botox for jaw clenching relaxes the jaw muscles so that you will not involuntarily grind your teeth or clench your jaw. The botox injection goes into the masseter muscle, which is the large muscle that moves the jaw. It significantly relaxes the muscle to reduce the wear and tear on your teeth and ease any jaw soreness associated with bruxism. But it does not weaken your ability to chew, eat, or talk.

Most patients who get botox for bruxism get 20 to 30 units in each side of their jaw that last about six months. However, their symptoms will typically resolve within two weeks of getting the injection.

Side Effects of Botox Injections

The side effects of botox injections for bruxism include the following:

  • Headaches (Headaches should resolve within 48 to 72 hours.)
  • Allergic reactions to the botox
  • Swelling in the botox injection area (around the jawline)
  • Itching in the botox injection area (around the jawline)

Because botox will wear off in a matter of months, getting botox to treat teeth grinding and jaw clenching will require regular visits. 

Alternative Treatment Options for Bruxism

If getting a botulinum toxin injection isn’t for you, there are other ways to treat bruxism, as well. Here are some alternatives.

Mouth Guards

Mouth guards can be used to treat sleep bruxism. For example, you can wear a night guard to prevent any damage to your teeth if you tend to grind them while you’re asleep. This can help with pain relief when you wake up

Biofeedback

Biofeedback uses an electronic instrument that measures your mouth and jaw muscle activity and signals you when there’s too much. This, in theory, can help you to change your behavior. It’s best for daytime bruxism when you can be alerted of your jaw activity.

TMJ Treatment

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to the rest of your head, enabling you to chew, talk, and yawn. Temporomandibular dysfunction, however, can cause face, jaw, or neck pain, limited jaw movement, clicking or popping in your jaw, and other jaw complications. TMJ treatment can be beneficial to those who have bruxism related to a temporomandibular joint

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Resources

Asutay, Fatih, et al. “The Evaluation of the Clinical Effects of Botulinum Toxin on Nocturnal Bruxism.” Pain Research & Management, Hindawi, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5516743/

“Bruxism (Teeth Grinding).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Aug. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/symptoms-causes/syc-20356095

“Bruxism.” Bruxism | Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/bruxism

“Plastic Surgery.” Botox for Bruxism Teeth Grinding San Francisco Bay Area CA, www.drkarenhorton.com/non-surgical/botox-for-teeth-grinding/

“The Pros and Cons of Botox for Teeth Grinding.” ADA Marketplace - American Dental Association, marketplace.ada.org/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-botox-for-teeth-grinding/

“Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 July 2020, medlineplus.gov/temporomandibularjointdysfunction.html.

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Updated on: January 7, 2021
Author
AnnaMarie Houlis
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Medically Reviewed
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Dr. Lara Coseo
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