Teeth Grinding, Square Jaw, Headaches and Botox

Botox Therapeutic
Botox Therapeutic Injections

I’ve spoken to quite a few patients recently who have been experiencing various forms of anxiety and stress. Given the unprecedented times we are living in currently, this is hardly surprising. I know Paul and I are both experiencing our fair share of stress and anxiety. I’ve found my days to be a little like a pendulum of moods between optimism and pessimism, and I have to remind myself that THIS IS TOTALLY NORMAL. We are all trying to navigate our way through a crisis that has so many unknowns.

I was having a video chat with a patient just yesterday. She described her symptoms to me, and I could see instantly on the video feed that she had a significant enlargement of the masseter muscle in the lower jaw.  (The masseter is one of the muscles of mastication. It is a powerful superficial quadrangular muscle. The masseter is primarily responsible for the elevation of the mandible and some protraction of the mandible)


Masseter Muscle
Masseter Muscle indicated in green

So apart from teeth grinding, what symptoms am I talking about? Well, common symptoms include a headache, tension, inability to open and close the mouth comfortably, painful clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when speaking, chewing, or yawning. Maybe you are waking up with a dull, constant headache, sore or tender jaw? 

Teeth grinding commonly happens at night, and some people discover they grind when their partner tells them!

Teeth grinding can change the shape of your face by thickening the lower jaw. Grinding can build up a super-strong masseter muscle (the muscle that helps facilitate chewing) caused by years of stress-induced clenching. 

Think of it like weight-lifting your jaw muscles for eight hours every night!

Some years ago, Doctors in Japan (and other parts of Asia) were injecting Botox into the jaw to slim the lower part of the face. A happy coincidence was observed after patients started to report that they felt relief from jaw pain. Allergan, the makers of Botox, and Doctors who work with Allergan to further Physician education conducted extensive research. 

Jump forward a few years, and it is now widely accepted among Physician Injectors, and an approved Health Canada treatment protocol. By injecting Botox directly into the masseter muscle, the Botox limits muscle function, and the muscle goes into atrophy. This has the pleasing result of slimming the face as the muscle mass is reduced. 

Masseter treatment


Botox treatment for masters at Whistler Medical Aesthetics

Generally, Botox lasts anywhere from three to five months, depending on how an individual metabolizes it. We are all different in this respect. As for how quickly can you expect relief? When Botox is used for cosmetic purposes, it’s injected into smaller muscles, so it works fast. The masseter muscle is much larger, so it may take up to one to two weeks.

After one week, you may notice that headaches are not as frequent and your jaw hurts less. At this point, the size may not be reduced. By week two, we hope to see improved sleep patterns, and patients often report being able to chew real food without pain or discomfort. 

If this procedure is performed by someone that doesn’t know what they are doing or is less experienced, then you can have functional impairment, pain, spasms, lockjaw, and difficulty chewing. It’s essential to go to a Licensed Physician who can credential their injectable experience, demonstrate their outcomes with before and afters is well-trained and performs this procedure routinely.

Remember, all consultations are complimentary.

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