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How I Found Relief from Jaw Clenching with Injections

I have been a terrible jaw clencher for as long as I can remember. I don’t grind but I find myself holding constant tension in my jaw and clenching my teeth together. My jaw clenching has resulted in problems ranging from headaches to cracked dental fillings to overly developed, square jaw muscles. I clench so hard on my left side that it’s noticeably bigger than the right and I feel tension there almost always.

I have tried night guards but I clench 24/7 so unless I wanted to wear one all day, every day, it’s not a viable solution. (Also, they are so uncomfortable. Please tell me how to ever get used to wearing one at night. Mine is custom fit and everything and I can’t stand it.) I also have my massage therapists at the studio do TMJ treatments on my jaw every time I see them, and while it offers incredible relief, it’s not a long-term fix.

Back in 2014 my dentist told me that if I cracked a filling on my left bottom molar one more time that the next step would be a root canal. This was around the same time that I started working with Dr. Jonathan Kulbersh at Carolina Facial Plastics on overhauling my skin care routine. He suggested Botox or Dysport injections to help with my jaw clenching as well as to soften the line of my jaw (just wait until you see the before and after) and my dentist agreed it was worth a try.

Finding relief from jaw clenching at Carolina Facial Plastics with boxox and dysport injections

Verdict? It was amazing. I’m so glad that I tried it. I’ve been receiving the injections on and off for three years now and it’s been a little bit life changing.

I want to share my results with you and then I want to answer any questions that you guys might have about injections for jaw clenching.

Jaw Clenching Injections: Before and After

Botox for jaw clenching at Carolina Facial Plastics

Here is the front-facing before and after. FYI: I wore makeup in the after pictures but not in the before and the after pictures were taken after 9+ months of being on a new skin care regime prescribed by Carolina Facial Plastics that include regular peels.

I couldn’t even believe the difference in my jawline. Can you see how strong and overdeveloped the muscle on my left was in the before picture? The injections completely softened the overall look of my face.

Aesthetics aside, the injections made such a huge difference in how I felt on a day-to-day basis. Gone was the constant pain and tightness in my jaw and the frequency of tension headaches was greatly reduced. When I have active injections, I also feel less neck pain, especially on my left side.

Botox for Jaw Clenching at Carolina Facial Plastics

Here is the after left side view.

FAQs about injections for jaw clenching.

How does it work?

Dr. Kulbersh injected Dysport directly into the masseter muscle (it’s that large jaw muscle you can touch and feel when you chew or clench your teeth together.) The Dysport weakens the muscle just enough to help you with involuntary clenching or grinding. In turn, you reduce damage and wear to your teeth caused by grinding and also may experience the kind of relief I had with headaches and neck pain.

Note: while this use of Dysport/Botox is not new for jaw clenching/TMJ, it is not a medically approved use by the FDA. 

Can you still chew?

YES! Your voluntary jaw movements like chewing and making facial expressions are not impacted by the injections.

What is the procedure like?

I had my injections done at Carolina Facial Plastics with Dr. Jonathan Kulbersh. I was escorted into a clean, bright treatment room where I sat in a chair that kind of felt like a dentist office chair. I was a little nervous about the injections but Dr. Kulbersh quickly put me at ease. His practice soley focuses on the treatment of the face and neck and he is double Board-certified in facial plastic and reconstructive head and neck surgery. I figured if he could perform major facial reconstructive surgery that my jaw injections would be a walk in the park.

The first time I had the injections he gave me a cold pack to hold on my face to numb it slightly before (I don’t do the ice packs now). He also gave me a stress ball to squeeze during them, which was greatly appreciated (I do still always squeeze the stress ball…haha).

He tested the muscles by touching them and asking me to clench and then marked the spots on my jaw where he was going to inject. The injections themselves were super quick and over before I knew it.

Did it hurt?

I would be lying if I said that having needles injected into your jaw was painless but it definitely wasn’t anywhere close to unbearable. My jaw was sore for a day or two afterwards but nothing a little Tylenol couldn’t help. There was no bruising.

How soon do you see results?

I see results in as little as a week. It takes a few days for the injections to start working but it’s crazy how quickly you can notice a difference!

How long do the injections last?

Three to four months but depending on your body and metabolism you can possibly stretch them out a tad longer. You’ll know when it’s time. I got lazy about it and didn’t get my jaw injected for most of 2016 and I was miserable by the time that December rolled around. I had another round of injections in January and I’m kicking myself for having stopped for a while last year. Again, the results are so noticeable and helpful.

How do you find the right doctor?

Honestly, I wouldn’t recommend going to the neighborhood med spa to have this done. I think that since you are injecting into such a big and important muscle for more medical than cosmetic purposes that it’s important to find someone who is experienced in providing this injection.

Obviously, if you’re here in Charlotte (or surrounding areas) I would recommend seeing Dr. Kulbersh but if that’s not an option definitely do your homework and be sure to ask if they have done this injection before.

Let me know if you have any questions. Many of you have shared that clenching/grinding/TMJ is something that you also struggle with so I wanted to share what’s worked for me with you in hopes that it helps you find some relief.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Sarah February 28, 2017, 4:56 pm

    It took me forever to get used to my bite guard, but the threat of a root canal was enough to make me try. Now I can’t sleep without it. I still ended up needing that root canal, but have saved the rest of my teeth from being ground to a pulp while I sleep. Interesting thought on the injections, my Aunt uses them for a line in the middle of her eyebrows and swears by it.

  • Amanda February 28, 2017, 7:17 pm

    I do Botox for my TMJ and it is a total game changer. 10/10 would recommend because biting down on a biteguard all night is just as painful in my opinion.

  • Ben February 28, 2017, 7:36 pm

    Hi Jen, interesting post! From a general dentist’s perspective, I recommend injections for our most aggressive clenchers/grinders, and sounds like this has certainly helped you. If you are still looking into nightguards, have you looked into a NTI style nightguard? It covers only the front four teeth, and many people who can’t tolerate a traditional nightguard find these very comfortable. It was originally developed for migraine sufferers and usually prevents muscle aches and pains associated with night time clenching and grinding. Most general dentists should be able to offer this option.

  • Kati February 28, 2017, 8:19 pm

    Hi Jen! This sounds amazing! Would you comment about cost/insurance coverage? Thanks. Kati

  • Lauren February 28, 2017, 9:42 pm

    For legal reasons I suggest you add that this is not and FDA approved use of Dysport. Additionally, because of this, the clinical trial demonstrating the safety and efficacy in this setting is lacking.

  • Ashley Noel March 1, 2017, 12:45 pm

    Wow! What amazing results. I’ve heard about injectables for the jaw but this is so interesting to see firsthand!

  • tara March 1, 2017, 1:18 pm

    i am a jaw clencher and teeth grinder as well and have been for many many years. it took me a while to get a night guard that was comfortable and took several trips back to my dentist to have it adjusted. for me it was life changing and i do not go even one night without it. i found my jaw clenching was also impacting front/back of neck pain and pain into my trap. i was also helped by doing some strength training on my upper back/trap muscles which helped my overall alignment, etc. so happy for you you have gotten it under control. people have no idea how bad it can be!

  • Anne March 2, 2017, 12:09 am

    I had terrible Tmj in my twenties. Regular visits to a knowledgeable acupuncturist cured me. (I know! The word cure is a big one to toss around, but I haven’t been back more than a handful of times in 10 years.) And it’s herbal/natural. I don’t go regularly at all but always leave feeling really good, relaxed and ready for solid sleep.

  • Julie Running in a Skirt March 2, 2017, 9:25 am

    Fascinating! I have this too and didn’t even know this was an option!

  • maryella March 2, 2017, 2:39 pm

    I have to agree with Anne’s comment. I had TMJ and could not afford the cosmetic dental treatments at the time, so I researched and found acupuncture. I went about 3 times a week for a few weeks and it did “cure” my TMJ!!! That was almost 4 years ago and no issues! It sounds like your injections are great for you but since you have to keep going back, I would totally suggest acupuncture!!

  • Holly March 19, 2017, 9:57 pm

    I also clench and grind a bit. I’m not sure I could stomach injections. Personally I would really like to figure out why I do it and address the problem there. I think, for me, it is stress related to some extent. I have a night guard and it’s annoying but I wouldn’t say horribly uncomfortable. It was made with a custom impression of my teeth via putty.

  • Jessica Sproul May 17, 2017, 12:14 pm

    I’m curious about how many units you received and the location of treatment. Thank you!

    • Jen May 18, 2017, 2:07 pm

      I am not exactly sure on how many units and directly into the masseter muscle.

  • Steve June 20, 2017, 5:22 am

    Thanks for your story Jen
    Just a few questions as I had Botox shot done 2 days ago did it get rid of the headaches?? As that’s my annoying pain I’m dealing with
    Thanks

    • Jen June 23, 2017, 7:38 am

      Remember that it takes Botox a few days to kick in. The relief won’t be immediate.

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