You may never have known about it, but across America, there’s a controversy that’s been brewing for years involving a very popular cosmetic filler. That’s because, depending on where you live, your dentist may be able to inject you with the cosmetic filler Botox - and not everyone thinks it’s a good idea.
Here in California, dentists cannot inject patients with Botox for cosmetic purposes. Many other states have the same law. This was done to protect patients from practitioners who may not have the skills and training to administer Botox. However, dentists arguably know the muscles and nerves around the mouth and face better than any other type of doctor, including plastic surgeons.
The good news is that your dentist can inject you with Botox for medical purposes! In fact, you may never have realized it, but Botox can be used to help alleviate the pain from some very common dental issues.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (aka TMJD)
If you’re a fan of "The Real Housewives of New York" like many of our patients, you are likely familiar with star Bethenny Frankel. Known for her sharply angular jaw, Frankel made headlines several years ago when her mandibles appeared softer. Everyone wanted to know what Frankel had done, but as it turns out she had only gotten Botox - and not for her appearance. Frankel apparently told the crowd at a DailyMail event that she’d gotten Botox in her jaw to help alleviate some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder. In order for this to work, the Botox must be injected directly into the masseter muscle of the jaw. When done properly, this can help relieve jaw tension and prevent the jaw from pushing forward unconsciously, something that contributes to a lot of pain associated with TMJ disorders.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can be prevented by using Botox injections bilaterally into the temporalis and mandible muscles. This reduces the strength of the chewing muscles in your face, lessening your ability to grind your teeth, as well as alleviating the pain in your facial muscles caused by teeth grinding. Ultimately, this will also protect your teeth from the excess wear and tear and even breakage incurred by teeth grinding.
Botox can even be used in some orthodontic treatments! You’ve probably seen or heard about it before - people who have had braces for months or even years, only to have their teeth shift back to their old positions again following treatment. While a lot of this can be prevented by wearing a retainer, sometimes even a retainer isn’t enough to stop the mentalis muscle from moving the teeth back to their original places.
For patients with this problem, Botox can often be a beneficial tool in the treatment arsenal. Over time, patients who receive Botox in the mentalis muscle actually experience less movement than those who don’t, which means that it's possible to eventually stop needing Botox treatments altogether. Much like how when patients receive Botox injections in their face their wrinkles begin to soften permanently, the Botox used in the mentalis muscle can actually retrain the muscle to stay put, allowing teeth to stay in their new position without further intervention.
The truth is, whether your dentist is permitted to inject Botox for cosmetic purposes or strictly for medical purposes, you’re very likely in great hands - and you can expect excellent results.
If you’d like to speak to Dr. Abelar about how injecting Botox might be able to help you with your own oral or facial pain, please give his office a call at 858-866-9692.