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Does Botox Help TMJ?

May 6th, 2024 | 4 min read

By NYC Smile Design

Person receiving a botox treatement for TMJ

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is characterized by discomfort and pain in the jaw joint, pain and soreness of the muscles controlling jaw movement, and headaches. Given these symptoms, Botox has emerged as a potential treatment option, offering new hope for those affected by this disorder. 

At NYC Smile Design, Dr. Elisa Mello and Dr. Ramin Tabib have extensive experience in using Botox to provide relief for TMJ symptoms, tailoring treatments to meet each patient's unique needs.

In this blog, readers can expect a detailed exploration of how Botox is used to alleviate symptoms of TMJ disorder, including its effectiveness, the treatment process, patient experiences, associated fees, and the importance of professional consultation.

What Is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular joint disorder, involves complications in the joint, muscles, and tendons that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull at the temporal bone. This condition can cause a range of symptoms, from mild discomfort to severe pain and dysfunction. Common causes of TMJ disorder include direct trauma to the jaw or joint, chronic clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism), which places excessive pressure on the joint and changes the dental bite, arthritis affecting the cartilage within the joint, and misalignment of the teeth or jaw, leading to abnormal stress on the joint during movement.

Individuals with TMJ disorder may experience a variety of symptoms, such as persistent pain in the jaw area, face, or neck; difficulty opening and closing the mouth, leading to challenges with eating and speaking; a clicking or popping sound when moving the jaw, which may or may not be accompanied by pain; and a sensation of the jaw getting "stuck" or locked in a particular position. A very common symptom is headaches, which can be quite debilitating. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that there is an association between TMJ headaches and migraine headaches, which are often treated with Botox as well. These symptoms can significantly impact daily life, causing discomfort during routine activities like talking, chewing, and yawning.

TMJ Diagram

Botox as a Treatment for TMJ

Botulinum toxin, commonly known as Botox, is widely recognized for its ability to relax muscles and reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles. However, its application has extended into the realm of dental and maxillofacial treatments, particularly for managing TMJ disorder. Botox works by temporarily paralyzing selected fibers of hyperactive and hypertrophied jaw muscles. The use of Botox in treating TMJ disorder has gained popularity due to its minimally invasive nature, providing relief without the need for surgical intervention.

How Can Botox Help with TMJ Symptoms?

The process of administering Botox to treat TMJ symptoms involves precise injections into specific hyperactive and hypertrophied facial and temporal muscles that are responsible for clenching and grinding. Botox effectively reduces the intensity and frequency of jaw and muscle pain by decreasing the inflammation created by these hyperactive and hypertrophied muscles. This reduction in inflammation can alleviate associated headaches, and facial and neck muscle discomfort, and decrease incidents of jaw locking and clicking. Patients who undergo this treatment commonly report a noticeable improvement in their ability to move their jaw with less pain and greater ease and a reduction in both severity and number of headaches. The effect of Botox in alleviating TMJ symptoms can lead to an improved quality of life, allowing individuals to engage in daily activities without the constant hindrance of jaw and headache pain.

Person receiving a botox treatment for tmj

Considerations and Effectiveness

When contemplating Botox as a remedy for controlling the symptoms of TMJ disorders, it's crucial to weigh several considerations to determine its suitability and effectiveness. The duration of Botox's therapeutic effects is a primary factor; typically, the relief from symptoms such as jaw pain, headache, and discomfort can last for several months, necessitating periodic treatments to maintain benefits. Patients must also be aware of potential side effects, which, although rare, can include localized pain, swelling at the injection site, or temporary facial weakness.

The financial aspect is another significant consideration, as the cost of Botox treatment can vary based on geographic location, the number of Botox units needed to treat,  and the practitioner's expertise. In New York City, average fees typically fall between $25 and $35 per unit, with a dosage range of 40 - 100 units, depending on the severity of symptoms and the hyperactivity and hypertrophy of the muscles being treated. While insurance coverage for Botox in TMJ treatment is not always guaranteed, some patients may find that their plans provide partial or full coverage, making it a more accessible option.

Patient Experiences and Testimonials

Testimonials from individuals who have received Botox treatment for TMJ often highlight a substantial improvement in their quality of life, with notable reductions in pain and enhanced jaw functionality. 

Common Questions Related to TMJ and Botox

Is Botox treatment for TMJ painful?

  • The injections can cause some discomfort, similar to a pinch, but the process is generally quick and tolerable, with patients reporting minimal pain during the procedure.

How long does it take for Botox to work on TMJ symptoms?

  • Botox typically starts to take effect within a few days to two weeks after injection, with patients noticing a gradual improvement in their TMJ symptoms.

How long do the effects of Botox for TMJ last?

  • The effects of Botox for TMJ can last anywhere from 3 to 5 months, but generally about 3 months, after which the treatment can be repeated to maintain its benefits.

Can Botox cure TMJ disorder?

  • Botox does not cure TMJ disorder but can significantly alleviate the symptoms. It is a symptomatic treatment that helps manage the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ.

Is Botox treatment for TMJ covered by insurance?

  • Coverage for Botox treatment for TMJ varies by insurance plan. Some insurers may cover it under certain conditions, while others may not. It's important to check with your insurance provider for details.

Are there any alternatives to Botox for treating TMJ?

  • Yes, there are several alternatives, including physical therapy, oral appliances (like night guards), medications, stress management techniques, hot and cold compress therapy, and in some cases, surgery. The best treatment depends on the individual's specific condition and needs.

Can I continue my normal activities after receiving Botox treatment for TMJ?

  • Yes, most patients can resume their normal activities 4 hours after the treatment. However, it's recommended to avoid strenuous physical activity for 24 hours following the injections to minimize the risk of spreading the toxin to unintended muscles and to prevent the overheating of the administered Botox as this can cause the Botox proteins to be less effective.

Botox serum

Consultation and Personalized Treatment

Professional consultation is crucial for anyone considering Botox for TMJ. Experienced practitioners can tailor treatments to individual needs, ensuring optimal outcomes. Personalized care plans are developed based on detailed assessments of each patient's specific condition.

Your TMJ Journey


For those experiencing TMJ symptoms and considering Botox, consulting with qualified professionals like those at NYC Smile Design is the next step. Schedule a visit to discuss your symptoms and explore Botox as a potential treatment option for your TMJ disorder.