Grinding, clenching and headaches – BOTOX

We are currently treating a number of patients for clenching and grinding, so we thought we would write about the possible treatments for what is becoming a prevalent issue.

The symptoms presented are either flattened teeth causing severe loss of tooth structure or chronic headaches and sleeping issues.

There is a variety of treatments available, each case needs to be assessed individually.

However, to help you understand the options here is an overview:


Excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth, known as bruxism, is often caused by physical or psychological stress or a sleep disorder. If untreated, bruxism can lead to excessive wear on the teeth and may cause permanent damage to the teeth and jaw joints.

Treatment involves repairing damaged teeth (such as restorations, crowns, or inlays to replace the damaged tooth surface) and subsequently creating an occlusal splint (night guard) made from hard plastic that fits over the upper or lower teeth, and is worn at night to prevent further wear of the tooth surfaces.

There are other options, such as BOTOX that can be used to immediately cease the clenching and subsequent headaches and jaw pain.

Botulinum (Botox) can lessen bruxism’s effects. An extremely dilute form of Botox is injected to partially weaken muscles and has been used extensively in cosmetic procedures to relax the muscles of the face.

Bruxism can be regarded as a disorder of repetitive, unconscious contraction of the masseter muscle (the large muscle that moves the jaw). In the treatment of bruxism, Botox weakens the muscle enough to reduce the effects of grinding and clenching, but not so much as to prevent proper use of the jaw muscle for eating.

Botox treatment typically involves a number of small injections into the masseter muscles. It takes a few minutes per side, and you can start to expect feeling the effects as quickly as the next day, although 3-4 days is more common.

The optimal dose of Botox must be determined for each person as some people have stronger muscles that need more Botox. This is why you should always see someone specifically trained in the application of Botox for treatment of clenching.

The effects last for about three months. Over time it is usually possible either to decrease the dose or increase the interval between treatments.

Our patients have had plenty of success with this treatment, it have relieved headaches associated with clenching as well as allowed their teeth to recover from constant grinding.

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