What is Botox?
Botox is a purified protein derived from the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacterium clostridium botulinum. Botox is injected into a patient’s skin or muscles, causing the muscles to relax.
Plastic surgeons have traditionally used Botox to relax facial muscles that cause wrinkles, rejuvenating a patient’s appearance by reducing signs of aging. Doctors also administer Botox to treat medical conditions such as neck spasms (cervical dystonia), excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis), chronic migraines, an overactive bladder, and lazy eye.
Botox works differently than dermal fillers (sometimes called soft tissue fillers), which are substances designed to be injected beneath the surface of the skin to add volume and fullness.
The benefits of Botox are now being applied to dentistry, to help patients with jaw pain, spasms, and esthetic lip issues and to avoid damage to the teeth and gums.
Common Uses of Botox in Dental Procedures
Dentists use Botox to treat patients with dental issues such as:
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) — Botox can relax jaw muscles, alleviating the pain that TMD causes in temporomandibular joints (jaw joints).
- Bruxism — Botox relaxes the muscles that cause patients to clench or grind their teeth, and helps patients with both sleep bruxism (which is more common), and awake bruxism.
- Orthodontic therapy — Patients with a high lip line (also known as a “gummy smile”) can use Botox to help relax lip muscles and achieve a lower, more esthetic smile line.
- Facial anatomy spasms — Botox can ease irregular muscle contractions caused by new dentures or other orthodontic appliances.
The side effects of Botox treatment are mild, and they go away within a few hours or days after treatment. A potential side effect of Botox can include:
- Allergic reactions
Why the Use of Dental Botox is Gaining Popularity
Botox was approved for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989. More than 30 years later, over five million Botox procedures are performed in the U.S. every year. Botox is a safe, effective way to treat conditions that can undermine self-confidence, cause major discomfort, and lead to long-term complications with your oral health. For certain disorders, it’s the only effective treatment available.
In addition to treating existing dental conditions, Botox can be used to relax chronically tight jaw muscles in patients to prevent the onset of TMJ disorders or bruxism, avoiding damage to teeth and gums. Your dentist can also apply Botox to correct lip deformities and reduce nasolabial folds and marionette lines around the mouth.
Common Myths About Botox
Despite Botox’s prevalence, there are still several misconceptions surrounding this popular treatment. Common myths include:
- Botox injections lead to a frozen face — A lot of people believe that Botox injections will cause them to lose the ability to make facial expressions. This isn’t true. Botox relaxes the muscles at the injection point. As long as you’re receiving treatment from a skilled injector, you’ll be able to display the entire range of facial expressions.
- Botox injections are painful — The majority of Botox patients have stated that the injections feel like a slight pinch or bug bite, if anything at all. In order to keep patients at ease, a topical anesthetic is often used to numb the skin at the injection site. The pain levels with Botox are extremely low.
- Botox treatments are toxic — While high levels of botulinum toxin can be very harmful or deadly to humans, small doses of the purified protein from which Botox is derived have been safely administered for more than thirty years. Botox has undergone a systematic review and been approved by the FDA.