Botox is a trade name for botulinum toxin, which comes in the form of a purified protein from a bacteria found in nature.
Botox is injected into the muscles, but doesn’t directly affect the muscle at all. Once injected, the toxin affects and blocks the transmitters between the motor nerves that innervate the muscle. There is no loss of sensory feeling in the muscles (pressure, pain, hot/cold). Once the motor nerve endings are interrupted, the muscle cannot contract. It is this lack of contraction that will prevent movement.
In cosmetic applications, Botox prevents the skin above the muscle from creasing (preventing permanent wrinkles).
The effects of Botox last for approximately three to five months, at which time the retreatment will be needed. Eventually the muscle will atrophy due to lack of stimulation, and smaller doses of Botox may be used to maintain the desired outcome. The areas that Botox is commonly used for smoothing of facial wrinkles are the foreheads, between the eyes (glabella), outer corners of the eyes (crow’s feet), and around the lips.
Botox in the dental setting is mainly used in managing bruxism – patients with Temporomandibular joint and facial pain due to subconscious or unconscious clenching of the jaw. Botox is also used to complement aesthetic dentistry cases, as a minimally invasive alternative to surgically treating high lip line cases, a downturned smile, denture patients who have trouble adjusting to new dentures, lip augmentation, and has uses in cases where retraining of the facial muscles is necessary.
We will be discussing the advantages of Botox and introduce the use of dermal fillers in further posts.