Jaw ‘workout’ shows on the face
Teeth grinding or clenching is a surprisingly common habit which is described as being ‘parafunctional’; meaning a behaviour that is outside what your teeth are actually designed to do. The medical name for this is ‘bruxism’. Studies have suggested that as many as 6 million Britain’s experience the condition, however, we are often only made aware that we are grinding or clenching at a dental check-up.
This is because bruxism can damage the teeth, with many experiencing tooth wear, chipped, cracked or broken teeth and increased dental sensitivity. People can also experience other symptoms such as headaches (especially in the temple area) aching jaws, tightness or clicking in the jaw area, as well as facial pain.
“I can tell at a glance, and don’t even need to look in their mouth”
As a facial aesthetics practitioner who qualified first as a dentist, Dr Pradnya Apte can see at a glance if a patient consulting her at her clinics in London and Exeter is a grinder. And she doesn’t even need to look in their mouth! This is because many people experience obvious physical manifestations of their clenching and grinding which shows in their outward appearance as a result the enlarged jaw muscles – which are effectively given a rigorous, frequent workout. Patients often complain that they feel they have a widened jaw, that leaves their face looking larger than they would like and ‘square’ in appearance. Great if you are male, but not many females aspire to looking square jawed.
There are a two main types of grinding or clenching: the most prevalent is described as a nocturnal bruxism, and happens whilst we are asleep. Many people do also grind or clench when awake, usually during periods of stress or sustained concentration such as driving, or whilst in front of the computer. This type is known as an awake bruxism.
But what is behind the condition and why do so many people unwittingly cause themselves so many complications? The exact cause of bruxism is unknown, but it is accepted to have multiple causes, with stress and anxiety being major factors.
From a clinical perspective, helping to manage bruxism can be tricky. Many patients are fitted with a night-time guard or splint by their dentist to help to reduce the wear and tear they are inflicting on their teeth, however, in many cases these don’t solve the issue. I have seen first-hand patients bite through the splints, and patients who clench, rather than grind who still put significant pressure on the teeth, jaw and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. For those who have chipped or broken teeth, dental restorations are carried out when necessary, however, if the bruxism continues, which unfortunately is often the case, it Is not uncommon for these repairs to fail and need to be repeated.
In some of the more severe cases, medications can be prescribed such as anti-depressants, muscle relaxants and beta blockers. Some people also resort to orthodontic treatment to change the alignment of their jaws to alleviate the condition.
Treating with Botox
At Skin Southeast and Skin Southwest where Dr Apte treats, she finds the most effective way to counter the outward signs of tooth grinding and clenching on the face is using Botulinum Toxin. It is particularly popular for those patients who feel that their face has become ‘square’ in appearance and the muscles in their jaw have become enlarged or masculine as a result of their constant jaw movement. The treatment can help ‘slim’ the face as the muscles are relaxed after the toxin injections.
Most people know Botulinum Toxin is used to reduce signs of lines and wrinkles around the brow and eyes, but it is also successfully used in many other areas of the body. It is particularly effective to help treat bruxism as it blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles. In the case of bruxism, it can help to reduce the activity in the jaw muscles (predominantly the masseter) which in turns reduces the clenching forces on the teeth, lessening the damage. Additionally, Botulinum Toxin can also be injected into the temporalis muscle, to help reduce headaches.
Treatment results are not experienced instantly, it can take a couple of weeks for the full effects to be experienced, and they last four to six months.
If you would like to find out if your bruxism could be treated with Botulinum Toxin, it is important to seek out a well-trained and qualified clinician. Dr Apte recommends looking for a dentist who offers the treatment, as it the toxin is injected deep into the muscle around the jaw area. It is imperative that the treatment is administered carefully to ensure that it does not affect one’s ability to chew and talk. And dental professionals have a deep understanding of the anatomy of the face. They also work in expert centres offering safe treatment.
About Dr Pradnya Apte
Dr Pradnya Apte qualified as a Dental Surgeon in 1993, but since 2007 she has focused on her passion, facial aesthetics. She originally trained in Harley Street and has continued her training with many of the UK’s leading advanced medical aesthetic experts. She opened her first clinic in Exeter in 2015 and her second clinic in London Bridge the following year.
Dr Pradnya has built up a loyal patient base who travel from all over the world to see her for treatment. She is known for her skill in achieving a natural looking rejuvenation of the face. Pradnya says “The face is a 3-dimensional structure that requires careful and skilled injecting techniques to achieve a harmonious balance”.
Dr Pradnya’s Exeter clinic, Skin Southwest, has been Save Face accredited since its inception and was awarded a WhatClinic 2016 and 2017 Customer Service Award, a testament to the level of service customers can expect from Dr Pradnya and her team. In 2017 Dr Pradnya was a finalist in the category of Full Face Rejuvenation at the prestigious Aesthetic Dentistry Awards and in 2018 she was a finalist in two categories; Facial Aesthetic – Botulinum Toxin and Full Facial Treatment, (for which she was awarded a Highly Commended citation), confirming her place as one of the top aesthetic practitioners in the UK. She has just been announced as a finalist in the 2019 awards, making it her third consecutive final.
Dr Pradnya stopped working as a dentist in 2017 to practice aesthetics full time. She regularly contributes to professional press journals such as Aesthetic Medicine and recently trademarked her combined approach to complete facial rejuvenation with Silhouette Soft threads and Ellanse Collagen stimulators, the ‘rejuvalift’.