Botox has been around for some time, and most people have heard it talked about for cosmetic improvements – enhancing lips, eliminating wrinkles, adjusting drooping eyelids. But many people have no idea what Botox is.
What is Botox?
Botox is a tradename for a type of botulinum toxin drug. These are drugs derived from the same bacterium that can cause botulism.
The difference, though, is that the toxin most widely used in cosmetic surgery and dental procedures – Botulism A – has been harvested, isolated, and purified through a process that ensures it is beneficial, rather than harmful.
How Does Botox Work?
Botox is administered by injection into specific facial muscles based on the outcome desired. Although Botox is injected into a muscle, its goal is to reach the nerves that control that muscle.
It takes a few hours for the toxin to reach the appropriate nerve endings, so the patient may not notice much effect at the time of the injection. During the next few days, though, the Botox works to block the nerve signals that make the targeted muscle contract, and it will continue to block those nerve signals for three to four months. Then, if a patient’s symptoms haven’t ceased, another treatment may be given.
Botox works only on the nerves connected to motor neurons. It doesn’t affect nerves connected to sensory neurons — the receptors needed to feel touch, temperature, and pain. In addition, Botox is a temporary treatment. Once it has done its job, the effect of Botox wears off and the Botox itself is out of your body.
Connection of Botox to Dental Health
So, what can Botox do for your dental health? Quite a bit, actually. Botox is helpful in treating numerous dental problems that patients find frustrating, inconvenient, and painful.
When a trained professional dentist uses Botox, it can be effective for reducing teeth grinding and/or clenching, easing TMJ pain (pain when you open or close your jaw), decreasing a high lip line (a “gummy smile”) without surgery, and when paired with dental fillers, giving your face a more youthful appearance.
It can even mitigate the pain of migraine headaches, particularly those caused by dental conditions.
Dental Botox is becoming more and more popular. Plenty of information is available to patients and dentists about what, when, and how of administering Botox.
Because a Botox injection has a temporary effect, continuing therapy may be needed, and you should discuss with your dentist all aspects of your treatment. There are some questions you’ll want to be sure to ask.
Is Dental Botox Safe?
Dental Botox is safe and effective when it is used as part of a comprehensive treatment program. A dentist who provides Botox injection therapy must have received specific education on Botox and be approved to use it.
Regulations concerning Botox use by dentists and dental hygienists vary from state to state, so it’s important to only receive Botox from a dentist who is licensed in your state to provide dental Botox treatments, and only as part of your overall dental health regimen.
Of course, like every other medical or dental procedures, Botox injections come with some level of risk. If it accidentally gets into parts of your body where it was not intended, Botox can cause such side effects as urinary incontinence, muscle weakness, and potentially dangerous difficulty with breathing and/or swallowing.
You can develop a resistance to Botox, as well, especially if, over time, you repeatedly receive high doses. The advantage of Botox rather than a more invasive procedure, though, is that there is no recovery time, as there is with dental surgery and some other major procedures.
Be sure to discuss your overall health and any medical conditions you have with your dentist before you begin Botox treatments.
Consult Your Dentist Regarding Dental Botox
When you need the help of a doctor or dentist, you want to go to someone you know. Someone you trust. If you are interested in dental Botox, you’ll want to receive those treatments from a professional you can feel confident about and comfortable with. You’ll probably want to see your regular dental team.
Though they haven’t traditionally administered Botox, dentists are exceptionally qualified to administer all types of Botox treatments due to their training and experience with facial anatomy and the function of facial muscles.
In addition, as patients become more interested in the look of a procedure’s result, as well as its function, Botox injections may help boost their overall feelings of satisfaction and confidence. And their dentist can likely provide a better result.