What is the TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)?
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) is a general term describing all of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. These disorders are often incorrectly called TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge joint that connects the lower jawbone (mandible) to the temporal bone of the skull on each side of your head behind the earhole. The joints are divided into the upper sliding section separated from the lower hinge section by a cartilage disc. This flexibility allows the jaw to move smoothly up and down, side to side and forward and back, enabling you to talk, chew, and yawn. Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw.
What Causes TMD?
Although stress is the most common factor, the cause of TMD is not clear. Dentists believe that symptoms arise from problems with the overuse of muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
Injury to the jaw, jaw joint, or muscles of the head and neck – such as from a heavy blow or whiplash – can cause TMD. Possible causes include:
- Grinding or clenching the teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the TMJ
- Dislocation of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket
- Presence of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ
- Stress, which can cause a person to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth
Once the causes have been determined, there are a multitude of TMJ treatment options available from dentists, including pain relief through the application of mouth guards, bite therapy, and TMJ exercises.
Botox Treatment for TMJ Pain
TMJ treatment, referred to by some dentists as TMJ therapy, includes many options. Some of the options are mouth guards, bite therapy and TMJ exercises. The safest therapy for extra-capsular myogenic TMD with the best patient compliance is using Botox.
Botox works like this: Stress stimulates the (Trigeminal) center in the brain that activates your chewing muscles (which is why you clench your jaws when you are stressed).Nerve fibers in tired jaw muscles send a message back to the same part of the brain - which then makes the jaw muscles contract and clench even more. When you clench very hard for a long period of time the same center in the brain causes other muscles in the head to contract which can ultimately lead to severe headaches and migraines.
Botox in the jaw muscles do not allow some of the messages from the tired muscles to be sent back to brain - so clenching stops before severe pain starts. The tension and pain associated with TMJ is relaxed as a result. The Botox can be used as a chronic pain treatment to alleviate TMJ headaches and all other pain and discomfort associated with TMJ.
The International Association of Dentofacial Esthetics offer an exclusive course on using Botox to alleviate discomfort associated with TMJ and other therapeutic benefits. The course is 8 hours long with live hands on patient training. For more information or to sign up for a course check out our links for our Botox for Dental Therapeutics and Facial Esthetics Course and our Peri-oral Soft Tissue (Dermal) Fillers Esthetics Course.