If you tend to grind your teeth, you have a condition people in the dental profession call bruxism. This involuntary behavior can be quite an annoyance for you, and it may even be causing jaw pain, headaches, the wearing away of tooth enamel, gum sensitivity, or chipped teeth. If you've already tried conventional approaches to changing this behavior and have been disappointed in the results, you may be surprised to learn that Botox (short-hand for botulinum toxin) has proven effective as a treatment for grinding teeth.
If you're treated with botulinum toxin for bruxism, a small amount will be injected into the muscles responsible for moving your jaw – most likely the masseter muscle, which is responsible for chewing. It may also be injected into the frontalis and temporalis muscles according to your specific needs. The botulinum toxin will reduce clenching, and it will also help with any accompanying tension and aches in your head that you may be experiencing. Botulinum toxin usually kicks in about 1 to 3 days after injection (but can take up to two weeks), and the effects could last 3 to 6 months.
Most likely, botulinum toxin will not be the first treatment your dental professional or doctor will recommend for bruxism. If you tend to grind your teeth in your sleep, a nighttime mouthguard is a typical recommendation. It can decrease damage to your teeth and lessen soreness from muscle tension. Doing muscle relaxation exercises and consciously improving sleep habits (like avoiding caffeine before bed and keeping a regular sleep schedule) can also help with nighttime bruxism.
As someone who grinds your teeth, practicing daily oral hygiene utilizing products that strengthen the enamel is of the utmost importance. Make sure to use appropriate gentle brushing techniques with a soft-bristled brush, and get in the habit of using an enamel strengthening toothpaste.
Having bruxism, pain, and damage to your teeth is an involuntary behavioral habit, so it can be particularly stressful, and you can feel like there's nothing you can do to fix it. But there are various treatments out there that can help you, and Botox may become a more widely recommended treatment in the future. Getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and practicing good oral hygiene are all steps you can take on your own to relieve tension in your jaw. And if the problem persists, or has already been persisting, be sure to talk with your dentist or doctor about what bruxism treatments are best for you.