Do you wake up in the morning with a stiff, sore jaw? Have you been awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of your own teeth grinding? Has your dentist recommended a mouth guard to protect your teeth from damage caused by tempromandibular joint (aka “TMJ”) disorder?
I often hear patients complain that they “have TMJ”. We all have TMJ, because it is a joint located in your jaw. Saying you have TMJ is like saying you “have an arm”. What you likely are suffering from is teeth grinding and clenching that is causing discomfort and damage to your TMJ and surrounding muscles.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching (also referred to as “Bruxism”) are common conditions that occur in both adults and children, typically as a result of the psychological effects of stress and sleep disorders. Most people are aware that this can cause damage to teeth, but did you know it can distort your appearance as well?
Your masseter muscle is a muscle located alongside of your jaw that, translated from Greek, means “to chew”. Like any other muscle, the more it is used, the larger it is going to get. Constant clenching and grinding will cause this muscle to enlarge, eventually giving a bulging, softened or square-like appearance of the jaw line. If you’ve not gained any weight, but slowly realize that your face seems to be getting larger around your jaw and chin, and you grind your teeth, this could be the cause.
Fortunately for us, Botox® is a quick easy treatment that, when injected into the masseter muscle, will provide relief from both the pain of bruxism and reduce the appearance of square jaw. Though most of us think of Botox® as a wrinkle reducer, it actually has many different uses. When injected into the masseter muscle, Botox® will cause the muscle to relax and, as a result, your clenching will be softened when you’re sleeping or otherwise distracted. The reduced use of these muscles means they will get smaller and your jaw line and facial shape will return to what it once was.
While this solution is not permanent, it is the only one of its kind for this disorder and it is extremely effective. If you think teeth grinding is causing you a distorted appearance, schedule a consultation and learn more about how Botox® can help get you back to how you should be.