New Study Aims to Get Botox Approved for TMJD Treatment

Woman looking in the mirror

You may have already heard that some doctors and dental practitioners are using the popular cosmetic injectable Botox to treat more than just wrinkles. A growing number of practitioners are using the injectable to do things like controlling overactive sweat glands in patients with hyperhidrosis or helping to keep migraine headaches at bay. But while some of these uses are approved by the Federal Drug Administration, some newer uses are not – including use for temporomandibular joint disorder. But that could all change if a new clinical trial out of Canada yields the kind of results temporomandibular joint disorder patients are hoping for. “Currently, the Federal Drug Administration does not approve Botox for use with temporomandibular joint disorder,” says Dr. Alexandra George, a dentist who specializes in the treatment of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder, at her Wexford, Pennsylvania, clinic. “But we’re hoping this study will help change that.” The study is being conducted at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, by a team of researchers in the Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry and will follow five subjects with TMJ disorder who are considered heavy tooth grinders. Funded by a $10,000 grant from the Canadian Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the study will monitor the patients over six months – the amount of time the Botox is thought to be effective. Researchers say that the purpose of injecting the Botox is to take some of the pressure off the jaw joints, but experts like George say that may not be enough. “The great thing about this study is that it could possibly help a lot of patients with certain types of temporomandibular joint disorder – but it won’t work for everyone,” George says. That’s because, as researchers concur, not all TMJ disorder cases are caused by the same problems. When the problem is not muscular and is in fact caused by damage to the temporomandibular joint itself, Botox cannot be effective. “Patients who have problems with the actual TMJ joint are often prescribed arthroscopy procedures, which not only get an up-close look at the joint itself but can actually clean it out and inject it with steroids to bring down some of the inflammation,” says George. As for the study, the results are yet to come in, but researchers are already seeing positive results and remain optimistic that treating temporomandibular joint disorder with Botox may not be an off-brand use for much longer.

Dr. Alexandra S. George

Medically reviewed by Dr. Alexandra S. George - D.D.S., L.Vl.I.F. on July 5th, 2019