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Can Botox Cure Bruxism?

 In Dental Guard

A small study suggests that botox can erase bruxism as well as wrinkles.

Stop teeth grinding

Millions of people grind and clench their teeth during sleep and suffer symptoms, which include jaw pain, headaches and damaged teeth. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that shots of Botox into an individual’s chewing muscles in the cheek can block the signals that tell these muscles to contract, thus relieving the grinding and clenching, the Chicago Tribune reported.

While the cause of bruxism is not fully understood, many believe stress causes teeth grinding. The study’s senior researcher Dr. Joseph Jankovic told the Tribune that the condition is thought to be due to abnormal signals coming from the brain that cause involuntary and forceful contractions of the jaw muscles. Those contractions result in jaw clenching and teeth grinding.

That’s where Botox comes in. Botox can be used to treat people with severe and moderately severe cases of bruxism, Jankovic said.

“Our study is the first placebo-controlled trial of Botox that demonstrates the benefits of this treatment in patients who suffer with severe grinding of the teeth while asleep,” Jankovic, who is a professor of neurology at the Baylor College of Medicine, said. “We showed that this treatment is not only effective, but also safe.”

For Jankovic’s study, 22 participants spent a night in a sleep lab while researchers measured their teeth grinding and clenching symptoms. Then 13 of them received Botox injections through their cheeks into their chewing muscles. The other nine were injected with an inactive placebo. After four to eight weeks, the participants were reassessed while spending another night in the sleep lab, according to the Tribune.

None of those who were given the placebo showed improvement in their grinding or clenching, according to the report. But six of the 13 people injected with Botox had symptoms the researchers called “much improved” or “very much improved.”

People who suffer from bruxism experience painful symptoms. Study participants rated their symptoms and pain on two scales of 0 to 100, where 50 meant no change. According to the Tribune, participants who’d received Botox reported fewer symptoms and less pain, with average scores of 65 on both scales. Those who’d been given the placebo reported no improvement, with average scores of 47 and 42, respectively.

Jankovic told the Tribune that the Botox treatments produced no serious side effects. He said two participants who received the drug experienced lopsided smiles, but they evened out after a few weeks.

Jankovic saw potential for Botox to stop teeth grinding, but admitted that the study was limited by its small size and lack of a formal way of assessing the severity of teeth grinding.

And full disclosure, the Tribune reported that funding for the Baylor study came from Allergan Pharmaceuticals, who manufactures onabotulinum toxin-A, aka Botox, and Jankovic is an Allergan consultant.

However, the study, which was published online in the journal Neurology, shouldn’t be overlooked. Botox has long been used to treat migraines and muscle disorders. Of course, it is also widely used for erasing facial lines and wrinkles by paralyzing the sub-surface muscles. Using Botox to reduce or stop teeth grinding isn’t really a radical idea, as the Baylor study showed.

Other treatments for bruxism include dental guards, but they mainly prevent damage to your teeth and may not stop the actual grinding and clenching.

According to the Tribune, larger trials using Botox to treat teeth grinding aren’t planned, and Allergan has not decided whether to apply for FDA approval to using Botox for bruxism, Jankovic said.

So until that changes, dental guards might be your best bet if you want to stop teeth grinding, or at least prevent damage to your teeth. Visit www.sleepright.com to learn more.

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