Roughly ten million Americans suffer from TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder), a painful disorder of the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. TMD, also referred to as TMJ, involves an abnormal function of the jaw joint caused by repetitive motions like teeth-grinding, chewing, or fingernail biting. Not everyone who grinds their teeth or bites their fingernails will experience TMD, but those repetitive behaviors certainly are a contributing factor in developing the disorder.
TMD can also be caused by stress in the head and neck muscles. In some cases, TMD is a genetic issue or one worsened by arthritis.
Symptoms of TMD
Those who suffer from TMD usually report mild to moderate pain resulting in chronic headaches, earaches, and migraines. They may experience facial pain or tooth damage from grinding. Chewing can become more difficult and you might notice a clicking or crackling sound as you move your jaw. Other common symptoms include muscle spasms in the jaw area and a locking of the jaw joint when the mouth is open.
If you experience these symptoms, it’s important that you mention them to Dr. Renger during your regular dental checkup. If the symptoms are severe, call for an emergency appointment.
During your appointment, Dr. Renger will feel and listen to your jaw as you open and close your mouth, checking for the telltale clicking or crackling sound in the joint. He may ask you to open your jaw as wide as you can to observe the range of motion in the joint.
Finding Relief Through Botox Therapy
Botox injections can be used to retrain your jaw muscles to relax, providing relief from TMD pain. The process is simple and can be done at Dr. Renger’s office. Botox is injected into the head and neck muscles to relax them and reduce facial pain. Injections take only a few minutes and results are usually seen within three to five days of treatment. These effects will typically last about three months, at which point further injections may be necessary.
Most patients see a correction in the grinding or clenching that led to TMD within two or three treatments. Symptoms will resolve and pain will ease if muscle pain was the sole cause of your symptoms. If symptoms persist, joint surgery and/or orthodontic therapy may be needed if there is also a problem within the joint capsule. As with any medical procedure, Botox therapy does include some risks and side effects. The most common reaction is bruising at the injection sites. Other possible reactions include headache, nausea, respiratory illness, and a temporary drooping of the eyelids. Side effects are very rare, but if they occur, should go away within days or a few weeks depending on the reaction. Be sure to call Dr. Renger’s office immediately if you feel you were having any adverse reactions.
While waiting for Botox therapy relief, there are other things you can do to ease the pain associated with TMD. Avoid particularly chewy or sticky foods, aiming for soft foods that don’t require much chewing. You want to give the joints and muscles in your jaw a break. You can also gently stretch and massage the surrounding muscles to provide temporary relief. Warm, moist heat or ice can be applied to your face to help alleviate pain as well. Dr. Renger will customize your TMD therapy based off of thorough clinical evaluation and careful review of your medical history and current medications.
If you suffer from pain caused by TMD, ask Dr. Renger if you might be a candidate for Botox therapy.