BOTOX ® is a remarkable example of a treatment that can be applied to many different conditions. Because of its ability to effectively relax tense muscles, the applications for the injection are numerous. It can effectively reduce many facial wrinkles, control sweating, and even reduce the frequency of migraines and other headaches. At Denali Dental Care, we’ve had great success with the use of BOTOX for cosmetic purposes and for migraine treatment.
Migraines and Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are the most common form of headaches. About 80-90% of headaches experienced by people without migraines are tension headaches. Even for migraineurs, tension headaches can be a serious problem. Many people with serious tension headaches have been misdiagnosed as having migraines. In addition, tension headaches can trigger migraines, leading to many of the most common attacks.
Tension headaches are caused by muscles that are tense. This may or may not be related to emotional stress. When it’s related to emotional stress, the link is often parafunctional habits like tooth clenching and grinding, also known as bruxism. Finding ways to relax jaw muscles and keep them relaxed can relieve tension headaches.
Migraines are more complicated, and, truthfully, they aren’t fully understood. But one key link in migraines is the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve controls a significant amount of information traveling to and from the face, an area of high demand for mental control. When the trigeminal nerve is overloaded, it can respond by releasing a chemical known as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which sets off a cascade of effects in the brain, including the expansion of blood vessels, which causes migraine pain and other symptoms.
But what causes the trigeminal nerve to get overloaded? Often the culprit is muscle tension again. The largest muscles controlled by the trigeminal nerve are the muscles of mastication (chewing). So, again, bruxism likely plays a significant role in triggering migraines.
How BOTOX Tackles Headaches
BOTOX treatment for headaches utilizes 31 proven injection sites that target seven different muscle groups. This includes muscles in the forehead, neck, and even the shoulders. The muscles that receive the most units of BOTOX are the temporalis muscles, the largest of the muscles of mastication.
These injections force the muscles in each area to relax. The muscles simply can’t tense up, at least not while BOTOX is effective. The effect of BOTOX fades over time. This means that BOTOX needs to be repeated periodically to remain the effect. It also takes multiple injection sessions (at least two) before you’ll see results.
But the results are amazing. Over time, about 70% of people with chronic migraine see a 50% reduction in migraine days with BOTOX treatment. That makes it probably the most effective migraine prevention available.
Side effects tend to be minimal, especially if you’re working with a skilled injector who knows how to avoid the spread of effects from the injection sites.
Of course, at Denali Dental Care, we offer other migraine treatments besides BOTOX. This allows us to treat people with other TMJ symptoms whose headaches may primarily be related to jaw tension.