Botox for TMJ: Overview, Benefits, Risks, Effectiveness

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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.

Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty or pain while chewing
  • Aching facial pain

In some people, injecting Botox (botulinum toxin type A) into the jaw muscles used for chewing may relieve pain associated with TMJ disorders. In this article, you will learn about the benefits, risks, effectiveness, and what to expect when getting Botox for TMJ.

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Benefits of Botox For TMJ

Some studies have shown that Botox provides long-term relief of TMJ pain by lessening the intensity and frequency of episodes. Researchers have found significant reductions in patients’ pain scores, and all patients with restricted mouth opening had some degree of improved range of motion with Botox.

People who have had Botox injections for TMJ have reported benefits that include:

  • Relief of jaw tension
  • Decrease in pain from teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • Fewer headaches
  • An increase in range of motion of the jaw

Potential Risks of the Treatment

As with any medical procedure, there are possible risks and side effects when using Botox to treat TMJ disorders. Since this is a nonsurgical treatment procedure, the risks and possible complications are uncommon and often mild.

The most common reported side effects of Botox treatment are:

  • Headaches
  • Flu-like feelings
  • Temporary eyelid droop
  • Nausea

Less-commonly reported effects of Botox are pain, redness at the site of injection, and muscle weakness.

What Research Shows: Effectiveness

Botox may show promise as an effective treatment for TMJ in some people. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved Botox for use in TMJ disorders.

Studies on the effectiveness of Botox for TMJ are limited and feature small sample sizes. A 2012 study of 26 participants found that Botox could significantly decrease pain and increase mouth movements for three months following treatment.

In an older study, published in 2003, there was an improvement of symptoms in up to 90% of participants who didn’t respond to other treatments. Researchers recommend more studies be carried out to better understand the full effectiveness of Botox treatment for TMJ disorders.

Recap

While many patients who have Botox for TMJ feel the benefits, there is little scientific research into the practice. More research is needed in this area.

What to Expect on the Day of the Procedure

Botox treatment for TMJ disorder is a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure. Botox for TMJ must be given by a practitioner who specializes in this treatment. Each treatment session typically takes 10–30 minutes.

Before

Your practitioner will decide on the number of Botox injections you need. The injection may cause you to feel slight pain, similar to a bug bite. Doctors recommend easing the pain with a cool pack or numbing cream.

During 

Your healthcare provider will inject Botox into a series of points on your forehead, temple, and jaw muscles, which are all involved in the opening and closing of the jaw and chewing mechanisms. Your practitioner may also inject other areas depending on your symptoms.

After

Although some improvement can be felt within a day or two of treatment, it can take up to a week to feel relief. People who’ve had Botox treatment for TMJ can expect to return to most of their regular activities as soon as they leave their doctor’s office.

Immediately after your Botox injections, your practitioner will advise you to keep your head level and not bend your head forward for two hours. You should also avoid heavy exercise until the next day.

Recap

Botox for TMJ is a nonsurgical procedure that can take less than 30 minutes. The procedure itself may be a little uncomfortable but shouldn’t be too painful. You should begin to feel the benefits within a week of the procedure.

Cost of the Treatment

The cost of Botox is based on a number of factors and varies depending on where you live. Your insurer is unlikely to cover Botox for TMJ because the FDA has not approved Botox for this use. But it’s worth asking in case your plan does include the treatment.

Botox is priced per unit and is approximately $10–$20 per unit. Providers estimate using around 15–25 units of Botox per side to reduce muscular tension. TMJ usually affects people bilaterally (on both sides), making the cost of TMJ for Botox approximately $250–$750 per treatment.

While figuring cost, it’s also worth considering that relief from Botox eventually wears off, and you may need to repeat treatment every three to four months.

Other Treatment Options

The treatment of TMJ usually begins with the following simple, conservative therapies:

Rarely, and only in severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Summary

Botox injections are shown to be a relatively safe and effective treatment for TMJ disorders, but more research is needed in this area to determine its full range of benefits.

Before trying Botox for TMJ, your healthcare provider or dentist may recommend trying medication, exercises, or mouth guards first.

A Word From Verywell

If you’re interested in Botox treatment for TMJ, it’s important to keep in mind that you may have to pay for the procedure out of pocket and that any relief is temporary. Because the FDA has not approved Botox for TMJ, your insurance provider may not cover the costs. If you haven’t responded to other treatment methods, getting Botox injections may help relieve some of the pain of TMJ disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does Botox last for TMJ?

    The typical duration of efficacy for Botox for TMJ is around 12 weeks, although researchers have noted some patients experience relief well beyond this length of time.

  • How many units of Botox do I need for TMJ?

    How much Botox you need depends on the severity of your condition and how well you respond to this treatment. The average is 15–25 units for each side of your face.

  • Is Botox safe?

    Botox injections are relatively safe when performed by an experienced practitioner. Proper storage of the product, the correct dose, and proper administration techniques are important. Whenever possible, get your treatment from a healthcare provider who is experienced in Botox for TMJ.



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