Although Botox is most well-known for its use in smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, it actually offers a number of other benefits, including chronic migraine management, treating bruxism (the clenching or grinding of the teeth), and improving the appearance of gummy smiles. Because orthodontists have extensive training in facial anatomy and structure, nerves, and muscles, they are natural choices for administering Botox. Dr. Sears has completed additional coursework and is certified in treating the following conditions via the use of Botox.
Botox in orthodontics
Orthodontic treatment is successful at treating and resolving problems that are associated with TMJ, clenching, grinding, headaches, and migraines. However, some cases are severe enough to involve other treatment types, such as Botox, being used in conjunction with more traditional orthodontic treatment.
This type of combined treatment can provide relief to any residual pain due to TMJ issues, grinding, and/or clenching. Botox is also able to alleviate the discomfort of patients suffering from recurring headaches and chronic migraines. Outside of pain relief, Botox can treat gummy smiles and is a great alternative to surgical procedures.
Botox for bruxism
Bruxism is the medical term for the clenching and grinding of the teeth, while awake or asleep. This repeated action can lead to physical pain and, in some cases, severe dental problems such as advanced tooth wear. Chronic teeth grinding can cause headaches, earaches, facial pain, and even migraines. Those who grind and clench their teeth while sleeping will frequently awaken with a sore jaw, and enlargement of the masseter (jaw) muscle may lead to the appearance of a severe square jaw.
Although there are dental and orthodontic devices that can successfully protect teeth from nighttime damage caused by bruxism, these are sometimes ineffective in stopping the painful side effects of teeth grinding. By injecting small doses of Botox directly into the large muscle that moves the jaw, excessive activity and spasticity are targeted, and the muscle becomes weakened enough to stop involuntary grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. In this way, Botox can provide relief from jaw soreness, headaches, and other problems associated with bruxism. These treatments can also soften the appearance of the jawline.
Botox injections are not a cure for bruxism, but they can effectively control symptoms, even better than a nightguard for some patients. When used for treating bruxism, the treatment typically lasts three to four months. Also, there are no effects on the jaw muscles when used for chewing food – that function will remain normal.
Botox for chronic headaches and migraines
Botox is injected around pain fibers that are involved in headaches, essentially lessening the force of paralyzing the muscles in the injected area. As a result, the treatment has been shown to have a therapeutic application for the treatment of certain types of headaches and migraines.
For example, tension headaches are generally caused by persistent and chronic muscle contraction. By partially inactivating the muscles in the area of the forehead using Botox injections, the pain can be lessened by a significant amount.
Chronic migraines also tend to respond well to Botox treatment. These are defined as fifteen or more headache days in a month, with each lasting four hours or more. For patients suffering from chronic migraines, the FDA has approved a specific dose and injection pattern with Botox. Much like tension headaches, certain areas are targeted with Botox, which can reduce the occurrence of headaches over time.
Botox for gummy smiles
Gummy smiles, or excessive gingival display when smiling or talking, occurs when a patient feels that they show too much gingival tissue during normal function. Gummy smiles can be caused by having a short upper lip, hyperactivity of the upper lip, a long upper jaw bone, or a combination of the above factors. Some patients feel this has a negative impacteffect on the appearance of their smile.
The most common cause of a gummy smile is a thin upper lip, or an upper lip muscle that is hyperactive and pulls the top lip up higher than normal. Traditionally, the only treatment for this was a surgical procedure involving the shorting of the upper jaw bone, leaving many hesitant to seek help. Botox treatment is a less invasive, less expensive, and less permanent approach. Injections are placed into the upper lip muscles to partially inactivate the muscles and prevent excessive contraction of the upper lip when smiling, minimizing the appearance of the gums.
Botox has been approved by the FDA for multiple medical/dental uses, and the chance of experiencing negative side effects is very small and not permanent.