According to my husband and my dentist, I grind my teeth really hard. Apart from wearing my teeth down to little nubs, I find myself in constant pain from all the jaw clenching and teeth gnashing, which is why I finally took the plunge and decided to wear my big girl pants and speak to my long time trusted doctor, Dr Elias Tam from EHA Clinic, about what steps I could take to stop this terrible habit before it gets worse and I end up toothless. 

Dr Tam advised me to consider having Xeomin (Botulinum toxin) injected into my masseter muscles to stop me from grinding and clenching my jaw. Xeomin works particularly well for those suffering from TMD, jaw clenching and teeth grinding, by immobilising the muscles causing the symptoms. The botulinum toxin temporarily relieves the tension in the jaw that causes the pain. It can also alleviate headaches experienced due to excessive clenching and prevents involuntary movements such as grinding. 

So how does it work, exactly? 

Xeomin can be used to weaken the masseter muscle, which is the main teeth-grinding muscle, and improve the pain caused by the repetitive and often unconscious action. Interestingly, injecting Xeomin  in this area can also thin the masseter muscle and reduce the appearance of a square jaw, taking it from a hypertrophied (or overgrown) masseter muscle, to a more youthful and feminine V-shape jawline by simply softening and over time, shrinking the muscle. 

With repeated treatments, the masseter muscle will reduce in size, which means that less units are required to keep the muscle in check. 

What should I expect on that day?

The whole procedure was fast and painless. After cleansing my face, numbing cream was applied for 30 minutes and then Dr Tam sat me on a reclining chair and instructed me to turn my head to the side and bite down and relax my jaw before he gave me three quick jabs on either side of my jaw, delivering 20 units of Xeomin to each side of my face. The amount of botulinum toxin used is determined by the size of the masseter muscle, and varies with each individual (it can vary from as low as 20U to 100U per side). This is where having an experienced doctor is important so as to avoid having too much injected into your jaw.

There was no swelling, no pain, no need to ice-pack the lower half of my face. In fact, there was no need to even look in the mirror at this point (although I obviously did)—because the results would take two weeks for the full effects to be felt. 

Xeomin works by blocking the signals from your nerves to the muscle and partly paralyses the muscle’s strength, which means the function of the muscle itself is reduced. When you’re not able to use it as strongly, clenching is reduced.

What about post-treatment care?

The most important step is not to massage the area after the injection for the next three hours. I took this a step further and manually washed my face instead of using my Foreo cleansing device, just to be extra safe, This is to prevent the xeomin from diffusing to other areas causing weakness of the wrong muscles.

I was also advised to avoid strenuous activity and alcohol for the next 24 hrs. I took this as an excuse to ditch the gym and eat cake instead. It is also recommended to avoid food or drugs that may increase the risk of bruising, like aloe vera, Vitamin E, and NSAIDs (e.g. aspirin) and to use the masseter muscle regularly – hence the cake eating, for the first two weeks as this helps to improve the spread of the Xeomin and thus improve the results.

What’s the cost like? 

The Xeomin for bruxism procedure will cost you between $400-$800 depending on the number of units you require, and the results can last you between 3 to 6 months. 

Final thoughts 

It’s been just over two weeks since my treatment and while I don’t feel any different, I have noticed that I have stopped clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth during the day. I don’t know if I still grind my teeth at night, but I don’t wake up with the headaches and tension that I did before the treatment.

If you clench or grind your teeth, I would seriously advise you to see a trusted medical professional as to whether Xeomin for bruxism is suitable for you. Constantly grinding your teeth is not just going to give you migraines, it’s also going to result in eye-wateringly expensive dental procedures in the future (trust me on this). If you are scared of needles, I promise you, the treatment is painless and totally worth any fear that you might feel. 

To find out more, visit EHA Clinic or call them to schedule a consultation with Dr Elias Tam.