Is TMJ Botox a Danger?

Although many people seek out botox injections for TMJ treatment, it’s not technically been approved for that use. That means that its risks and benefits have never really been evaluated, even though it’s more and more commonly being used for treatment of jaw pain, headaches, and other TMJ symptoms.

Now the University of Connecticut (UConn) has received a $4 million grant to study the potential long-term effects of using botox for TMJ.

Pain Relief Today, Pathological Fractures Tomorrow?

178100036The established risks of botox use are relatively minor for the amount injected for cosmetic purposes. There is a small risk that there can be soreness or redness at the injection site and that botox can migrate to the eyelids–causing sagging eyelids–or to the throat–causing swallowing difficulties. For the large amounts used in the treatment or palsy, the risks are much greater and include death. The amount used for TMJ treatment is somewhere in between, and its risk profile has not been established.

Botox treats TMJ  by causing the jaw muscles to relax. With less active jaw muscles, many symptoms of TMJ can be relieved. However, there is concern that this may lead to a loss of bone density in the jawbone, putting people at risk for serious fractures.

Our bones are not static–our body is constantly tweaking them to ensure that we have the right bone shape and density. That’s how orthodontics can move your teeth–putting the right pressure on teeth tells the body to remodel bone around the teeth, allowing the tooth to move. Researchers fear that when botox is constantly used to relax the muscles of the jaw, the body will perceive the reduced tension as a sign that it can remove bone from the jaw. This has already been shown in rabbits, and there are some hints it may be true in humans, too.

The five-year study at UConn, NYU, and several clinics in Los Angeles will look at the bone density profile of people receiving botox treatments for TMJ. The measurements will be taken using cone beam computed tomography, a technology commonly used to diagnose TMJ and to help plan dental implant treatments.

What Is the Tradeoff?

Before we begin to rely too heavily on any medical treatment, we have to know both its risks and its benefits. Currently, the benefits of botox treatment for TMJ are purely anecdotal, but, then, so are the risks. This study will give us important information about both.

In the meantime, if you are looking for a TMJ treatment in Denver that has been proven to be safe and effective, and is toxin free, we can help. Please call 303-759-5652 for an appointment at Park Meadows Dental Care