Botox for Bruxism

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Did you know that Botox can actually change the shape of your face?  Or more accurately, did you know that some of your facial muscles may be overdeveloped (or even just very well developed) and that they can bulk out certain areas of your face, and that Botox can counteract this?  No?  Well then keep reading!

If you’ve ever heard of Botox before, or read up on it at all you will know that Botox is a toxin that blocks the signals that nerves send to muscles telling them to contract.  This means that Botox paralyzes muscles to varying degrees depending on the doses used and the size of the muscles targeted.  In cosmetic medicine we spend a lot of time paralyzing muscles that cause lines on the face in order to prevent or erase wrinkles, most commonly around the eyes, on the brow or between the brows.  However, muscle movements that cause lines are not the only guilty party in making us look old or cross or more masculine than we would like.

In the stressful times we find ourselves in these days so many of us spend our days and nights subconsciously or consciously grinding our teeth.  In its mildest form this can cause a scalloped appearance to the edge of your tongue, or swellings inside your cheeks from chewing, but severe sufferers can cause tooth damage, headaches, earache, neck pain, facial pain, increased tooth sensitivity and even an inability to open your mouth.  More than that, bruxism in any form can cause a bulkiness at the angle of the jaw that makes your face wider around the jaw than at the temples with an angular contour to it.

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In men this is, for the most part, attractive – think of Clark Kent’s square chiselled jaw, Brad Pitt’s, Ashton Kutcher’s, Henry Cavill’s…the list goes on.  Unfortunately though, the “ideal” woman’s face shape is oval or heart-shaped and so while some women with squarer jaws are absolutely gorgeous (Kiera Kinghtly, Diane Kruger, Demi Moore, even Angelina Jolie), many would feel that the contour of their face is more feminine or softer were it less angular.

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This is where Botox becomes a little miracle in a purple-branded bottle.  By injecting a few units into each masseter (chewing) muscle your doctor can weaken the muscle to such an extent that you will still be able to chew, but that the bulk of the muscle will diminish, smoothing the contour of your face and making it softer.

If you have a treatment you can expect that your jaw will feel a little bit achy for a few days post-treatment, and once the Botox kicks in you might feel like chewing something like a steak is a little more difficult or tiring than it was before.  This feeling disappears as you become accustomed to the relative weakness of the treated muscles and chewing will feel normal again within a week or two.

Being a rather bulky muscle, the masseter does take a few more units than you might expect, which makes it a little more expensive than what you might be used to, however the results are really quite remarkable.  For those suffering from any kind of pain related to bruxism or teeth-grinding there is usually immense relief a few days after the first treatment.  Within the first few weeks the shape of the face will change as the muscles relax and exercise less.  This result remains for around 3 months when the Botox will begin to wear off and the muscles start working again.  For chronic teeth-grinders repeat treatments are recommended.

As with any cosmetic injectable we recommend that you only visit a trained professional, and in South Africa this is limited to doctors and dentists.  The cause of your bruxism should be investivgated if you are grinding your teeth continuously or severely, and you may require adjunctive therapies from dentists or physiotherapists if your problem is severe.

To make an appointment for a consultation please call us on (021) 6833048 extension 1 or email us on


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