Botox against bruxism

A new method for treating bruxism involves administering botulinum toxin (or Botox for short). Stated in simplified terms, Botox relaxes the facial muscles that become tight when people grind their teeth. Botox can therefore reduce teeth grinding (the scientific term is bruxism) over a period of 3 to 6 months. To cite one example: With Botox, the large chewing muscles (masseter muscle) can be precisely relaxed. The team at the Bärenklau dental practice in Munich successfully uses Botox against teeth grinding. In a thorough initial examination, we determine whether a mouth splint should be used instead of or in addition to Botox for bruxism.

Botox against teeth grinding to relax muscles

By way of background, Botox is a medication that is known for relaxing muscles. In plastic surgery, it has been used for many years on all the striated muscles of the body. In the facial area, Botox decreases the number of wrinkles thanks to its relaxing effect on the facial muscles. Botox was originally used in a medical context and continues to be used to help stroke patients. Since the chewing muscles also react positively to Botox, injections at three specific points on each side of the face can effectively cause relaxation. As a result, teeth grinding decreases significantly or altogether. More good news: most bruxism patients hardly experience any pain in Botox treatments. Only the injection is associated with a slight sensation of pressure, and in rare cases with a burning feeling. It is important to remember that just enough Botox is injected to stop teeth grinding; normal chewing remains unchanged. Speech is not affected either.

One in five Germans suffer from bruxism

Every fifth German suffers from teeth grinding during sleep (sleep bruxism) or during the day (waking bruxism). Teeth grinding is involuntary and significantly stresses the tooth root and enamel as well as the bone, jaw joints and chewing muscles. The alignment of the bite can even change due to ongoing bruxism. Older people experience bruxism less frequently. Primarily children suffer from sleep bruxism. There are many reasons for grinding one’s teeth. Recent research has revealed that sleep bruxism arises from rhythmic activity of the chewing muscles triggered by the brainstem. This occurs at an increased rate between/during different stages of sleep. Fear, stress, and unhealthy lifestyle choices such as the alcohol, smoking and too much caffeine can cause waking bruxism.

Numerous studies on Botox therapy against bruxism

There are scientific reasons for using Botox against bruxism. Since Belgian neurologists reported an initial successful Botox treatment in 1990 in the “Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry”, more than 200 studies and controlled case descriptions have been documented. In 2012, there was a meta-analysis of Botox therapy against bruxism by a Chinese research team. The data from many thousands of Botox treatments for teeth grinding was summarized, analyzed and published in the “International Dental Journal”. Many large, scientifically reputable studies (controlled before-and-after studies) confirm that Botox can significantly reduce the frequency of teeth grinding. It is also confirmed that the pain associated with bruxism can be significantly reduced after a Botox injection, and frequently disappears altogether. And last but not least, it was found that Botox therapy against bruxism is free of side-effects.

How much does Botox therapy against bruxism cost?

It is difficult to give a specific cost for Botox treatment against teeth grinding that covers every case. Generally speaking, it costs around €400. The chewing muscles responsible for teeth grinding are very dense. This makes it necessary to use a large amount of Botox to fight bruxism. However, this is not always the case; some patients do not have strong chewing muscles and therefore do not need as much botulinum toxin. Bruxism therapy with Botox is not covered by statutory health insurance.

Botox against bruxism: Side-effects?
In general terms, the aforementioned studies revealed that bruxism therapy with Botox is not hazardous. Botulinum toxin is completely broken down by the body after a few months. This is also why the treatment needs to be repeated after a while if bruxism still continues. Apart from the potential discomfort of injection, a temporary decrease in the amount of saliva has been reported as a side-effect. In addition, Botox has been used for many years to change the facial shape in Asia. In that region, angular facial contours with well-developed chewing muscles are considered unattractive.