You may have heard or seen an advertisement for dentists performing Botox injections. To understand this, you have to remember that dentistry encompasses far more than just the teeth. In this article, we will explain what Botox is and how dentists are using it to provide beneficial treatment for their patients.
Botox is short for botulinum toxin, which is the product of specific bacteria, Clostridium botulinum. These bacteria are responsible for a paralyzing illness called botulism. This bacterial infection can be life threatening because it paralyzes many vital structures in the body.
Botox involves the injection of small amounts of the toxin into various muscles in the body to paralyze them for a variety of purposes. The one with which most people are familiar is the paralysis of facial muscles for cosmetic reasons.
When you undergo treatment with Botox, your dentist injects small amounts of the toxin into various areas of the muscle that he or she wants to paralyze.
The toxin in Botox blocks a specific neurotransmitter that is necessary for muscle activity. Without this neurotransmitter in the local muscle, it cannot contract, so it is effectively paralyzed. The mechanism of Botox action is temporary, lasting a few months (the exact length of effectiveness varies by individual).
Botox has a wide range of applications all over the human body. Dentistry is no exception. Botox can be both esthetic and therapeutic.
Cosmetic dentistry aims to improve the appearance of a smile. Most people envision porcelain veneers on the teeth when they hear cosmetic dentistry, but when you remember that the lips and face are an essential part of a smile, you can begin to understand how Botox might be useful in its improvement.
The muscles of the lips and cheeks guide how much of the teeth you see in a smile, and when someone shows “too much” teeth, Botox can help. Botox can paralyze lip and cheek muscles that lift and open the smile too widely.
Dentists often use Botox to relax an upper lip that lifts too high and exposes the entirety of the upper teeth. A stereotypically beautiful smile should not show the gums above the upper front teeth. If your smile does, Botox may be able to lower the upper lip to prevent the gum tissues from showing.
Far more commonly, dentists use Botox to help patients suffering from pain. We are seeing a rise in the subconscious habit of teeth clenching and/or grinding (officially called bruxism). This habit often causes pain in the facial muscles and temples with severe headaches.
The habit involves strong, forceful, and lingering contractions of the muscles that close the upper and lower jaws together. These muscles become sore after prolonged activity. Botox can relax these muscles and stop the forceful contractions.
Your dentist can inject Botox into the muscles responsible for these hyperactive contractions, which leads to relief of the pain someone with this habit may feel.
Botox is an injection, so it is not pain-free. The needles used to place Botox in the muscles are tiny, so the pain is minimal. After the injections, you may experience tenderness at the injections sites as a normal side effect. The body responds to any type of “injury” with inflammation, and injections feel like an injury to your body.
The great news is that dentists are experts with injections, giving them on an hourly basis. Dentists know how to reduce the discomfort of injections so they will make sure you are as comfortable as possible during your Botox treatment.
Yes. Botox, when used in the amounts prescribed for esthetic and therapeutic purposes, is perfectly safe. It can cause some tenderness, swelling, and bruising that is temporary following the injections.
The effects of Botox will last between three and six months, varying by person.
There is no risk for long-term complications with Botox injections. Botox injections do not produce the illness of botulism.
Call Rockland Dental Specialists today to schedule a consultation with one of our dental experts. We can answer any question you have about Botox in general or how it would address your specific concerns. Call us at (845) 259-2500 or complete our online contact form today!