Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders are very painful and often misunderstood. The TMJ is the joint that holds the jaw bone to the skull and the disorder is when that joint becomes inflamed. The problem can be either chronic or acute and is always painful.
TMJ is really caused by muscular spasms in the jaw which cause the joint to become inflamed. Botox uses the botulinum toxin, which is a paralytic that can freeze the muscles so that they no longer are active and therefore can't spasm. This works well on the muscles of the face, as seen in cosmetic uses of Botox which freeze muscles so that they can no longer tighten and cause wrinkles.
In TMJ treatment, Botox doesn't fully freeze the muscle, rather it weakens it. The patient is still able to speak and chew their food, but the muscle isn't constantly flexed as it was prior to treatment.
Dr. Alexander Rivkin of Westside Aesthetics in Beverly Hills uses this treatment on Suzanne who suffers from TMJ due to grinding her teeth at night. She has tried several of the traditional treatments for TMJ such as having her wisdom teeth removed, bite guards, even chiropractic treatment but nothing worked. This is her second treatment with Dr. Rivkin and she raves about the difference. There is even a cosmetic difference due to the relaxing of the jaw muscle. When the muscle is flexed, it creates a more "masculine" appearance. When it relaxes, the face takes on the more natural, more feminine oval shape.
The treatment doesn't last forever. Just like Botox for cosmetic use, it wears off after about 3 months. It can help to break the cycle of teeth grinding and therefore end the root cause of the TMJ.