If you grind and clench your teeth while you sleep, you suffer from a common condition known as sleep bruxism. As well, there are those who cope with bruxism while awake.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it is just as likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth, or by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
Many who deal with the nighttime variety must wear a mouthguard while they sleep in an attempt to reduce the damage to their teeth and jaw and avoid the commonly associated pain and headaches, but this measure has its limits and does not stop the problem at its source. TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint) dysfunction refers to pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw, and bruxism is a common culprit.
Recently published research shows that Botox can be effective in reducing the symptoms and pain of teeth grinding. Botox, which works by preventing muscles from contracting, is commonly used to treat cosmetic dynamic wrinkles of the face (e.g. frown lines, crow’s feet, bunny lines), excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), headaches and migraines, Raynaud syndrome, and many other conditions.
After years of nighttime teeth grinding, the masseter muscles often become very enlarged, giving the appearance of a strong, square jaw, which women in particular tend to dislike as it can detract from a more classically feminine heart-shaped look. Botox works to shrink the masseter muscle, thus softening the jawline. Men, however, do retain their larger jawbones, and are spared any feminizing effects.
The Botox treatment typically takes 10-15 minutes, with a pain level of 1-2 out of 10. The injection may take a week or so to start relieving the pain and clenching, and a couple more weeks to take full effect. There is minimal to no discomfort right after treatment, and in most cases, minimal or no bruising. You can apply makeup immediately afterwards if need be and return to regular activities right away. Typically the benefits last 3-4 months.