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.
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
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.
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.