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Botox for Teeth Grinding

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should botox be used to treat teeth grinding iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Millions of people grind their teeth and most have no idea they have this habit. Most people find out that they grind teeth from their partner or the dentist.

Teeth grinding is not life-threatening but it can sometimes cause jaw pain or headaches. Teeth grinding does not cause immediate damage to the teeth, but is a slow process which takes decades.

Now a small study from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston has suggested that Botox may be of use for people who grind their teeth.

Dr. William Ondo, Professor of Neurology administered Botox injections to night grinders and noticed greater improvement compared to those who received the placebo. The study was only conducted on 13 people, and after four weeks the severity of the condition was reassessed.

People who received Botox did not notice any change in their sleep patterns or severity of the headaches. In fact, two patients also developed more pleasant aesthetic changes in their face.

Botox is a toxin obtained from a bacteria and is known to work blocking nerve signals to muscles and inducing relaxation.

So should consumers who grind their teeth line up for Botox?

Definitely not recommended.

First, the treatment has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for bruxism. Second, there are no studies to determine what possible complications can occur by injecting Botox inside the mouth.

Third, Botox is prohibitively expensive and may not even work.

Fourth, the effects of Botox are transient and only last a few months. Finally this study was funded by the company which manufactures Botox. When physicians are paid money to conduct studies on drugs, the results usually exhibit a positive bias.

In the last decade, many neurologists started to offer Botox for migraines. Again, the studies were funded by the manufactures. Now a large review done with independent funding shows that Botox does not help people with migraines. (2)

On the other hand, teeth grinding has traditionally been treated with the use of dental guards. Custom-made dental guards only cost $100-$200 and last several years.

These devices have been around for decades and are safe, last longer and do not cause complications. The only problem with dental guards is initially getting used to wearing them at night.

So the choice is simple. Get Botox for your wrinkles and a dental guard for your teeth grinding. If in doubt, always get a second opinion -- from another patient.


1. Botox may treat nighttime grinding. Fox News. Web. Apr. 30, 2012. http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/04/27/botox-may-treat-nighttime-teeth-grinding/#ixzz1tRBfcUM0

2. Jackson J, Botulinum toxin A for prophylactic treatment of migraine and tension headaches in adults: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2012 Apr 25;307(16):1736-45.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22535858

Reviewed May 1, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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