When I clench my jaw in the mirror for Dr. Divya, she points out how my right side, the side with full teeth, has a much stronger muscle and is rock hard when I touch it clenched, like a learned bicep. “The right side is dominant,” she tells me, “resulting in asymmetry.”
This, we decipher, is because I’ve probably been subconsciously aware that I have a missing tooth on my left side, so the right side now works harder when I grind.
“You grit your teeth, you clench your teeth, you erod your teeth, and it’s a muscle. If you use it a lot, it just gets bigger and bigger,” explains Dr. Divya. “So it’s not just a medical problem, it will also increase the shape of your lower face. One of the benefits of this treatment is that it also causes a non-surgical slimming of the jawline.”
What are the side effects of Botox for teeth grinding?
I ask Dr. Divya if this affects my chewing or speech?
“The masticatory muscle (the main muscle of the jaw) is a very strong muscle,” she explains. “It’s used for talking, but mainly for chewing. You find that for some people who are used to chewing more gum on one side than the other, that side in particular will be bulkier because they’re constantly chewing; that muscle is active. Botox will not completely prevent movement.”
However, she adds that at a higher dose, you may notice a weakening of your ability to chew. “But with a proper dose, you’ll notice that the girth is reduced and the clenching is a little less, so if you had a headache when you woke up earlier, that would be less,” says Dr. Divya.
It sounds like a riskier procedure than botox for wrinkles. I say and wonder, will injecting the botox into my masseter muscle affect my smile?
“It will happen if someone misplaces the Botox,” warns Dr. Diva, emphasizing the importance of seeing a doctor before this procedure.
“If the Botox spreads to the neighboring muscles, or if it was injected too close to those muscles, then that is indeed a complication that can occur,” she continues. “So we try to keep a margin of safety by making sure there’s an imaginary line and we inject under that. Obviously your whole masseter muscle can’t be treated because of that complication, but you can drastically reduce its strength.
What happened during the treatment?