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Botox® injections are fast becoming one of the most commonly requested services in dental offices around the country. In part, Botox® has enjoyed such increased popularity due to its portrayal in movies and media as a cosmetic service of choice for wrinkle reduction and other cosmetic benefits. As more and more therapeutic benefits are discovered, however, more dentists are recommending the service to their patients to improve their quality of life.
What is Botox®?
Botox® serum is a purified form of the botulinum toxin, used for its paralyzing effect when it comes into contact with nerves responsible for muscle contraction. The serum works by interrupting the nerve signaling between the muscle and the brain. Under the effect of Botox®, chronically tight muscles are unable to contract because the brain is unable to receive the signal.
Botox® injections are required approximately every 4 months in order to maintain their effectiveness, which peaks two weeks after injection. The serum is injected under the skin with a very fine needle which causes minimal discomfort. Patients begin to enjoy the benefits of Botox® when its effect begins to take hold, 3-10 days following injection. Those patients who are pregnant, lactating, sensitive to injection ingredients or who have neuromuscular disorders are advised not to receive Botox®.
How do Wrinkles Form?
In order to understand how wrinkles are treated with Botox®, it helps to understand how those wrinkles form in the first place. As our skin ages, it naturally slows down cell reproduction along with its production of collagen and elastin. With a loss in collagen and elastin, skin does not remain as youthfully ‘bouncy’ or firm, and it is unable to easily reflect a smooth appearance. With time and gravity, wrinkle formation begins to establish where your muscles pull the skin the most from underneath, forming wrinkles or grooves in the dermis.
Other factors, like sun damage, can play a part in wrinkle formation, since UV rays notoriously interrupt collagen and elastin production, and scramble their organization. Each time this occurs, the skin takes longer to heal, and it heals more ineffectively each time. Tobacco smoking has also been shown to negatively affect wrinkles through its negative impact on collagen and elastin production. If you would like support trying to quit, talk to your doctor or dentist about the medical supports available to assist you.
If you experience pain or discomfort as a result of chronically tight muscles in the face and neck, Botox® may relieve the tension and alleviate associated headaches. Chronic migraine sufferers may find relief with a combination of massage and Botox® treatments.
Patients who awake in the morning feeling unrested, sore, headachy, or nauseous should speak to their dentist about whether bruxism is playing a part in their discomfort and lack of rest. Bruxism is commonly known as nighttime clenching and grinding of the teeth against each other while at rest, overworking the muscles of the jaw and neck and potentially causing damage to the teeth. If there is evidence of bruxism, including clicking and popping of the jaw while eating, your dentist is likely to recommend a multi-pronged approach to symptom reduction including a night guard to protect the teeth, relaxation techniques to thoroughly relax before bed, and Botox® injections to stop the pain associated with jaw and neck muscles that are working too hard, too often.
Chronic sweating, known as hyperhidrosis, can also be treated with Botox® injections into the armpit. Patients who suffer the embarrassment of sweating through shirts while at rest will find a new level of comfort after Botox® takes effect.
Headaches and wrinkles don’t have to become a daily concern with treatments like Botox® available. Talk to your dentist about whether Botox® Injections are suitable for your individual needs. We look forward to supporting you along your oral health journey.
Cosmetic applications are Botox®’s claim to fame. Injections aimed at treating wrinkles are typically placed between the eyebrows to reduce the two lines that can form due to frowning. Botox® relaxes the muscle and reduces its impact on the skin that lies above it. Similar injections can be offered around the ‘crow’s feet’ which often form around the outer area due to squinting, or at the sides of the mouth (known as ‘smile lines’). Horizontal brow wrinkles due to lifting the brows may also be offered treatment.
Some patients express concern that their desire for wrinkle reduction will result in an inanimate or expressionless appearance. Botox® treatments can achieve very natural results with skilled application. Your dentist is among the most trained professions in human facial anatomy, so making your dentist your provider of choice is likely to achieve superior results with a lower chance of potential side effects.
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