An End To The Daily Grind

BOTOX injections relieve muscle pain triggered by teeth clenching.

Nancy* loves to travel. Throughout her years in high school and college, she dreamed of living and working somewhere other than the United States.

“As a student, I did a lot of volunteer tutoring for international students from various countries,” Nancy shares. “I really enjoyed that. It was very meaningful and rewarding. It’s what got me interested in teaching outside of the US. There are many programs that will set you up to experience another country while you teach and work there.”

Nancy, 23, planned to teach English to students in Japan after graduating from college, but she graduated in May 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That forced Nancy to put her plans on hold as Japan maintained tight border controls to limit the spread of the virus.

“Within a few days of receiving my first injection, I noticed that my pain was really decreasing.” - Nancy

“Within a few days of receiving my first injection, I noticed that my pain was really decreasing.” – Nancy


“With the borders closed, I decided to close that career door for now,” she laments. “Maybe I’ll revisit that plan when the world is a less crazy place. Currently, I’m working in fashion retail, but I hope to go back to school sometime soon.”

Nancy’s thwarted plans are a source of frustration for her.

Also frustrating were the painful issues she suffered due to years of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. As a result of that habit, Nancy developed constant discomfort in her jaw, alongside extreme teeth sensitivity, which caused radiating pain from her jaw outward.

“I experienced headaches and neck pain so bad that when I woke up my neck felt like concrete,” Nancy details. “I also felt pain in my shoulders and in my chest muscles below my collarbone. Simple tasks such as brushing my teeth were painful. At one point, I even experienced back pain.

“I was also tired all the time because I wasn’t sleeping well. The problem affected my overall well-being, and it was getting out of hand. I was not sure if my teeth grinding was the cause of all that pain.”

Over the years, Nancy tried multiple treatments to bear the brunt of the grinding and ease her pain, including retainers and mouthguards, but nothing worked. As her condition worsened, she searched for another option. She finally found one at Blossom Dental and Facial Aesthetics in Ormond Beach, the practice of Huda Aljonaidy, DDS.

“I was living in Florida temporarily and didn’t know where to go,” Nancy recounts. “I went online and looked up providers who treat TMJ disorders. After some research, I found Blossom Dental and Facial Aesthetics. They had many great reviews, so I made an appointment.”

When Dr. Aljonaidy felt the main muscle of Nancy’s jaw, she could tell it was overactive. Dr. Aljonaidy could also feel tension in Nancy’s skull and neck muscles, which are connected to the TMJ, temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw and skull. As treatment, Dr. Aljonaidy recommended injections of botulinum toxin (BOTOX).

“BOTOX is effective at relaxing tense muscles in the body,” Dr. Aljonaidy explains. “It’s also a useful treatment for bruxism, or teeth grinding. Nancy is a teeth grinder, and it caused pain in her teeth, jaw, face, head and neck. She desired to learn if BOTOX could help her.”

Muscles of Mastication

Bruxism can develop for several reasons, Dr. Aljonaidy professes. One reason is poor occlusion, where the patient’s bite is not correctly aligned.

“The teeth will work all day trying to bring themselves together properly,” Dr. Aljonaidy informs. “That forces the muscles of mastication, those used for chewing, to work overtime, which eventually leads to pain.

“There are four muscles of mastication. The masseter muscle is the dominant one. It is the strongest of the four muscles and is responsible for closing the jaw. The masseter should not work more than 20 minutes a day. That is the time needed for eating and swallowing. In people with bruxism, the masseter puts in three months of work each day.”

Environment is another factor in the development of bruxism.

“When people are trying to cope with stress, they often tense their bodies, and that can lead to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.” Dr. Aljonaidy explains. “I notice the muscle enlargement as soon as I do the facial assessment. There’s a typical appearance to the patient’s masseter muscle, which is also hard and tender to the touch.

“Whether the problem is the occlusion or the way we handle stress, the masseter must be relaxed, because when that muscle is overworked, the TMJ hurts. Pain can then radiate from the TMJ to other areas of the head and body.”

To treat bruxism, Dr. Aljonaidy often starts by recommending a tailored mouthguard that the patient can wear at night while sleeping. Mouthguards do not allow the teeth to touch, so the masseter muscle doesn’t contract and get overworked; therefore, pain doesn’t develop.

“After wearing a mouthguard, patients wake up in the morning relaxed,” the dentist reports. “The problem is patients forget to wear their mouthguards every day. Also, people with severe bruxism might have a hard time getting used to the guards or accepting them in the first place.

“BOTOX brings a level of convenience to the patient’s pain relief as it works quickly and effectively. We inject it into the masseter muscle, and patients are without pain in their face when they wake up. We typically treat patients with BOTOX for a year to help the muscle function normally. We then train the patients to use mouthguards, so they don’t require BOTOX injections for the rest of their lives.”

“Like Night and Day”

Dr. Aljonaidy initially treated Nancy with more conservative treatments, including a mouthguard and special tongue exercises. However, those methods were not her favorite. That’s when the dentist recommended BOTOX injections. The impact was almost immediate.

“Within a few days of receiving my first injection, I noticed my pain was really decreasing,” Nancy reports. “After that, I went to Blossom Dental and Facial Aesthetics every three months for almost a year, and the results have been like night and day.

“Now I can sleep through the night, and I don’t wake up with a headache or with my neck feeling like it’s made of concrete. I’m no longer in pain when I brush my teeth, and eating chewy foods is not painful anymore. I didn’t realize just how much pain I was in until it was alleviated.

“My quality of life has significantly increased thanks to the BOTOX treatment I received from Dr. Aljonaidy. Going to Blossom Dental and Facial Aesthetics was the best thing I’ve done for my health thus far. Dr. Aljonaidy and her BOTOX injections really changed my life for the better.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. js
* Patient’s name was changed at her request.
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