The increase in patients suffering from Temporomandibular disorder (TMD), also known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ disorder), has seen a sharp rise in the use of botulinum toxin for treatment.
This disorder affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing issues including headaches, jaw pain and clicking, limited chewing function, and limited mouth opening. One cause of TMD is teeth-grinding (bruxism) due to stress, which is affecting increasing numbers of people during the cost-of-living crisis and post-pandemic world. Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol were found in people suffering from TMD.
Botulinum toxin injections can help relax the muscles around the jaw, relieving the debilitating symptoms of TMD, and providing much-needed relief for the sufferer. However, the lack of regulations regarding who can administer these and other non-surgical treatments is leaving people open to unscrupulous practitioners who may not have the experience or training to administer the toxin safely or deal with potential complications.
Authors of The Influence of SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic on TMJ Disorders, OSAS and BMI found a prevalence of TMD in a cohort of 208 participants from different private dental practices. Another study, The Prevalence and Predicting Factors of Temporomandibular Disorders in COVID-19 Infection: A Cross-Sectional Study, found a 41.9% prevalence of TMD in Covid-positive participants.
“We are definitely seeing the rise in people seeking botulinum toxin treatment for jaw pain from grinding,” says Dr Sieuming Ng. “While perceived to be a ‘cosmetic’ treatment, it is still ultimately a prescription medication used not just in aesthetics but also functional cases such as for TMD or even facial paralysis, yet there is complacency around who wields the needle. Problems such as allergic reactions or other side-effects can arise even in the best of hands, so it is important that the public seek qualified clinicians who can deal with any possible complications. One’s health should never be a gamble.”