As a patient, it is nice to know that your dentist is keeping up with the latest dental technology. Since your dentist is investing in continuing education, you know that you’ll receive care in the most up-to-date way, which should help minimize pain and make it easier to improve your smile.
One of the biggest breakthroughs in treatment of some difficult dental procedures recently has been the introduction of Botox® and dermal fillers into dentistry. While well known for its wrinkle reducing properties, Botox continues to be proven to be useful for treating a variety of other conditions. Several of these are dental related, leading to the growth of Botox in dentistry.
Growing Number of Botox Dental Procedures
The use of Botox in dentistry is becoming more accepted, with dental boards in a number of states now allowing it and other injectables that can improve the appearance of patients’ smiles. According to the American Academy of Facial Esthetics, 7 to 8 percent of dentists in North America are now offering Botox or other similar injectables. Close to half of all U.S. states and some provinces in Canada now allow dentists to use Botox.
As dentists continue to use Botox to treat various conditions, more opportunities are being discovered.
Currently, the most common uses of Botox in dentistry are:
- Gummy Smiles (High Lip Lines)
- Facial Pain
- Teeth Clenching/Grinding
- Migraine Headaches related to dental conditions
In addition, other injectables, known as Dermal Fillers allow dentists to treat uneven smiles and high lip lines (gummy smiles) without the need for surgical procedures.
Dentists as Facial Experts
We’ve been conditioned over time to think about dentists as “tooth doctors.” In reality, dentists are much more than doctors that treat teeth. In addition to teeth, dentists routinely monitor the health of your gums, check on your jaw bone, and examine the inside of your mouth, as well as your lips for signs of oral cancer or other problems. It is dentists that check for proper alignment of your jaw. Dentists actually have more training and experience in the muscles and bone structure of the face and jaw than any other type of medical professional.
Advantages of Using Botox and Injectables
Botox and dermal fillers have many advantages for patients over traditional therapies. The most obvious advantage is that they are minimally invasive.
Botox is being used by dentists to treat some pretty difficult cosmetic issues and sometimes-mysterious pain. Patients with high lip lines, for example, show off a large amount of their gums when they smile. Traditional treatment would include surgery (sometimes done with lasers now) to remove gum tissue along with crowns or veneers so that the smile reveals teeth rather than gums. This is a pretty aggressive set of procedures for something that is a cosmetic problem and doesn’t directly impact the patient’s ability to chew, etc. Using Botox or dermal fillers to adjust the way the lip line falls across the mouth is much less invasive, provides more immediate change and will be less expensive initially than traditional procedures.
In the case of TMJ/TMD, dental related Migraine Headaches, teeth clenching and grinding or facial pain, the causes are often not clear-cut. Generally, muscle tension is a strong factor in all of these conditions, but reversing that muscle tension with surgery, splints, and other traditional therapies is often limited in effectiveness. Often therapies designed to treat these conditions rely on the patient to wear an appliance (night bite guard or splint) or to change their behavior (relaxation techniques or eating different foods). These types of therapies probably have a higher failure rate because of something we have all experienced. It is difficult for people to maintain the discipline to stick to these types of programs long-term. Botox acts as a muscle relaxer and once injected continues to work for several months without any behavior modification or need to remember to use a splint or bite guard. This makes treatment easier and less stressful for the patient, and in many cases it provides results that traditional therapies never could.
A different type of dental treatment
The use of Botox and injectables in dentistry is a bit different than most dental procedures. Fillings, crowns, veneers and other dental procedures are considered permanent solutions. Botox and Dermal Fillers are treatments that have to be repeated to remain effective. They can most be likened to tooth whitening or even teeth cleaning, which must be repeated regularly.