Can Botox Help Oromandibular Dystonia (OMD)?

Oromandibular dystonia (OMD) is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle contractions and spasms. People with OMD may have difficulty when eating, swallowing, or speaking. Although it is a movement disorder, OMD can cause dental issues. However, Botox treatments may be able to help some people with OMD reduce their symptoms. Read on to learn more about OMD, Botox treatments, and other dental interventions that can help this disorder.

What Dental Issues Does OMD Cause?

Because OMD can affect jaw muscles, some people with OMD may experience temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction and tooth wear from clenching. Some people may have intraoral tissue damage from accidentally biting down on their tongue or cheeks. Some people may experience painful restriction when trying to open or close their mouths.

How Could Botox Help?

When Botox is injected into the facial area, its chemical components attach themselves to nerves that control muscles. Botox can block nerve signals that cause muscle contractions and spasms. Botox also affects receptors that feel pain, so if a person with OMD has TMJ dysfunction, Botox can block those sensory nerves as well.

When Botox is injected into the masseter, pterygoid muscles, and temporalis, patients with OMD may see improvements in their ability to chew.

While the effects of Botox aren't permanent, they can provide symptom relief for many months before another appointment is needed. Although Botox has been studied more with other types of dystonia, one study found that all but one patient with an OMD-type dystonia saw improvements after treatment.

What Else Can a Dentist Do to Help?

Although Botox can be incredibly helpful for OMD, it isn't a cure-all. Your dentist will recommend a treatment schedule for injections so that you don't have too much Botox in your system or risk negative side effects. Your dentist might recommend adjunctive treatments to regular Botox sessions. For example, they might recommend an oral medication, like diazepam, which can act as a sedative and reduce facial spasms.

If you don't respond well to oral medications, then your dentist might recommend sensory feedback training. For example, your dentist might prescribe an orthodontic device or mouthguard that will help retrain your speech and swallowing patterns and help you relax. Chewing gum or biting gently on a toothpick can help some symptoms subside temporarily. Your dentist might recommend intraoral massage appointments to release tight jaw muscles or teach you how to massage your cheeks to relieve tension.

These are just a few ideas that your dentist might have to help a person manage OMD between Botox sessions. Reach out to a dentist for more details.