Is Botox Safe for TMJ?
If you suffer from TMJ or frequent headaches, you’ve probably come across the option of Botox injections as a treatment. Botox is a neurotoxin protein that is made from botulinum toxin Type A. It is an injectable used in the cosmetic industry to temporarily reduce or eliminate facial lines and wrinkles by paralyzing muscles in the face. It was FDA approved in 1989 for the treatment of eye muscle issues and in 2002, approved for severe frown lines. In 2013, it was approved for crow's feet. Currently, Botox is not FDA approved for TMJ disorders. However, some medical professionals are offering this treatment for TMJ problems with a medical release from the patient.
Medical professionals are injecting Botox into the jaw muscles. These injections will cause the jaw muscles to have a limited function, which can lead to pain relief and a decrease in TMJ symptoms. After a few months, the results will wear off, and more injections will be needed for continuous relief. Botox is expensive and is not covered by medical insurance because it is not an FDA-approved treatment for TMJ disorders and jaw problems, including teeth grinding and clenching.
Although Botox will likely result in some jaw pain relief, it isn’t the safest treatment option for TMJ problems. Botox does not address the underlying cause of TMJ pain and TMJ symptoms; and can interfere with a proper diagnosis.
According to a 2019 study reported by the National Institutes of Health, long-term use of Botox injected into the masseter muscle of the jaw causes significant reduction of bone volume and a decrease in cartilage thickness. Condylar erosion was noticed after the patient received quarterly injections of Botox into the masseter muscle for a period of one year. Animal studies have also shown this harmful effect.
In 2020, researchers at the NYU College of Dentistry reported that short-term use of low doses of Botox did not result in significant changes to the jawbone. Those findings published in the Journal of Oral Health Rehabilitation, call for more studies to track bone- and muscle-related changes with long-term use of Botox for TMJ disorders.
There are limited clinical studies on the long-term effects of Botox treatment for TMJ disorders. Until more is known about the consequences of Botox injections into the jaw area, it is best to try more holistic interventions that are less invasive.