Ask a General Dentist – What is Dental Botox?

dental Botox Fort Lauderdale, FL

Many people may not be aware of the use of dental Botox® since they are more familiar with its cosmetic applications for smoothing out wrinkles in the skin. However, Botox® has been used therapeutically to treat myofascial pain, tension headaches and migraines. The Food and Drug Administration gave its approval for such purposes within recent years. Among the potential therapeutic uses of Botox® are treating dental pain.

How does dental Botox® work?

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that carries messages from the nerves to the muscles telling the latter to contract. Botulinum toxin derives from Clostridium botulinum bacteria and works to inhibit the release of acetylcholine and prevent muscle contractions. In its natural state, botulinum toxin can produce a dangerous condition of flaccid paralysis. However, after purification in a lab, botulinum toxin can be safely injected into the body for cosmetic or therapeutic purposes. By preventing muscle contraction, it can relieve pain due to tension.

The therapeutic effects of Botox®, which is the brand name for botulinum toxin, only last for a few months. After this time, symptoms may return. If this happens, it may be necessary to receive recurring injections of Botox®. Repeated high doses of botulinum toxin can sometimes cause the patient to build up a resistance. In this event, alternative treatment methods may need to be used instead.

What conditions can dental Botox® treat?

Botox® works to relieve muscle tension and prevent muscle spasms. Therefore, it is useful for treating dental pain that arises from conditions that cause these irregularities.


Bruxism is the scientific word for grinding or clenching one's teeth. It can cause severe damage to the dentition. Individuals are often not aware of jaw clenching or teeth grinding. It may occur primarily while the person is sleeping. While there is a psychological component to bruxism, the tension of the jaw muscles may be a contributing factor. By relieving the tension, botulinum toxin injections may help to prevent bruxism and subsequent damage to the teeth.

TMJ disorder

Irritation of the soft tissues of the temporomandibular joint, where the skull and jaw connect, can cause symptoms of facial pain and jaw dysfunction. The underlying cause of TMJ disorder is often mysterious, but the tension of the jaw muscles is often a recognizable factor. Many patients report pain at particular trigger points around the TMJ. Injection of Botox® helps to relieve the symptoms at those trigger points.

Many dentists first resort to treatments that reposition the teeth and jaws when addressing TMJ disorders. While it may correct the underlying issue in the long term, this does little for short-term pain relief. Botox® injection can complement other treatments by relieving acute pain and giving repositioning a chance to work. Botulinum toxin may be effective at providing relief to patients whose symptoms have not been improved by other therapies.


As with any other treatment, there are risks of side effects from dental Botox®. It is important to inject the muscle correctly so that the toxin does not spread to other areas of the body. However, Botox® can be an effective addition to an existing plan of dental care to address certain specific issues.

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