I’ve always been a grinder. I grind my teeth when I’m stressed, when I’m overtired, when I’m going through life changes, in fact I even grind my teeth when I don’t know it! For a lot of my life I’ve been grinding my teeth in my sleep and it even wakes me up. Most of the damage to my teeth has already been done (I have dead straight, flat line teeth that are nowhere near as big as they used to be!).
Bruxism is the scientific term for teeth grinding, and it’s quite common. I know I’m not the only one out there, but it got to the point where it was causing other issues. I was getting headaches, and when working on something, I’d find myself clenching my jaw so much that my shoulders and neck muscles were starting to hurt. I’d be concentrating on a piece of editorial and then I’d realise that my jaw was clenched, and my shoulders were lifted.
I was reading an article about Botox for migraines and discovered that Botox has been used regularly for many people suffering from migraines and – you got it – teeth grinding. Like, where have I been? Have I been living under a rock? I had NFI!. I’m lucky that working in this industry, I come across solutions to random physical issues quite regularly, and while I was visiting one of my favourite injectors, Dr Steven Liew, we chatted about Botox for bruxism and I discovered he treats many patients for bruxism. Well, who knew! So of course, I’m now having Botox for my bruxism and It actually works! Basically a few jabs around the jaw line (well, it’s a whole lot more scientific and complicated than that), and I have to say I feel a whole lot more relaxed, and I’m not finding myself with my jaw clenched all the time and my shoulders raised a few inches!
What are the side effects of Bruxism or teeth grinding?
There are said to be several symptoms and side effects of teeth grinding including:
- Aching jaw muscles (which I definitely had).
- Aching ears – your jaw muscles are connected to your ears
- Headaches (Yup)
- Damage to teeth (grinding will wear your teeth down and can cause havoc with any dental work such as fillings, caps and crowns). It can even go so far as to cause fracturing of the teeth
- Sensitive teeth including including gum inflammation
- Disruption to sleep, including that of your partner due to the noise (I’d wake myself up with my grinding!)
Why Wasn’t I Told?
I have to admit I was a little pissed off when I heard that Botox can help with teeth grinding. I mean why wasn’t I told? How come my dentist had never told me about this? Is it something new? Why don’t more people do it? Is it covered by Medicare? Sooooo many questions. Well I have to say I haven’t been able to get complete answers for any of this, so it’s up to you to find yourself a doctor, and see what can be done to help you. I was also fascinated to learn more, and it set me off wondering what else this drug could be used for? I mean after all wasn’t it’s use for the the reduction of wrinkles an accidental discovery?
How does Botox Help with Teeth Grinding?
After a bit of research (including Dr Google) I discovered that Botox is actually made from a purified (mostly) harmless neurotoxin that causes the disease Botulism. Botulism poisoning is from a toxin which is produced by a bacteria called “Clostridium botulinum”.
How it works in aesthetic medicine is by temporarily paralysing the facial muscles that can cause your wrinkles and frown lines – that’s why when you raise your eyebrows when you have had a treatment it doesn’t move – they’re paralysed. It lasts anywhere from 3-6 months, and it’s said to last longer on some and less time on others. I’ve heard it depends on your metabolism, but hey – who knows why?
How it works to help with teeth grinding is by having it injected into the chewing muscles in the cheek area, whereby it blocks the signals that the body sends for the muscles to contract, effectively stopping the grinding and clenching. An article that I read also showed that a couple of people who have had the treatment ended up with lopsided smiles as a side effect of the treatment, but in both cases they evened out after a couple of weeks. I didn’t care, I was happy to give it a go. Although, I did have a moment of reservation imagining that my face might drop and my mouth would remain open – but nah, that didn’t happen.
Other treatments for teeth grinding?
The only other treatments for teeth grinding are wearing a mouth guard, which is completely uncomfortable, unattractive, unsexy (not that I really care about that) but seriously I could imagine myself waking up with a mouthguard down my throat!! This soooo wasn’t an option for me. Neither were drugs which were also suggested to me. So Botox was definitely on the table for me. The clincher was that it was to be Dr Liew doing the injecting and anyone who knows me or has read any number of my blogs over the years knows that Dr Liew is a true guru with that needle in his hands!
Getting Botox Injections for my Bruxism
Dr Liew is not only professional and amazing at what he does, he is just so gentle and pain free (and believe me I’ve had my share of injectables that bloody hurt like hell!). After a few minutes of conversation, slight pressing on the skin, him moving from one side to the next – voile! I was done.
I’m looking forward to seeing how long it lasts for me.. I’m guessing around 3 months?
Watch this space, my new favourite botox treatment 🙂