Yes, you read that correctly. Dentists use Botox in their practices for a variety of treatments. It makes total sense as dentists spend their entire careers in the head and neck area, are experts in the local anatomy, and routinely give injections.
Botox-A works by inhibiting the release of acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that causes muscle contraction. By inhibiting the release of acetylcholine, Botox will either reduce the intensity of the contraction of the muscle or will eliminate the contraction altogether, depending on the dosage used. Botox neurotoxin interrupts the contraction process of the muscles and causes a temporary muscle paralysis. This can last usually anywhere up to three months as the muscle initiates new acetylcholine receptors and the growth of branches from the neurons to form new synaptic contacts. Gradually the muscle returns to its full function and with no side effects.
We have found use for Botox in therapeutics and cosmetics in dentistry. Most dentists have patients with, and will treat, TMD and Bruxism. Traditionally this has been done with behavior modification, anti-inflammatory medications, splint therapy, and physical therapy with varying degrees of success.
Botox treatment gives us another tool to help patients that suffer from TMD, bruxism, clenching and migraines. Many people with chronic facial pain can find relief with Botox treatments for one of these conditions. Patients that suffer from these conditions often have hypertrophied muscles of mastication like the masseter and the temporalis that respond favorably to Botox treatment. From a cosmetic perspective it is well known the positive effects Botox can have on smile lines, crow’s feet, wrinkled lips, and gummy smiles. It has been referred to as a face lift without surgery.