Botox and Cosmetic Dentistry

***UPDATED: July 28, 2014*** The state of Tennessee is the latest to address the growing concern about the use of facial injectables, such as Botox, in dental offices. According to a recent Dr.Bicuspid.com article, the Tennessee attorney general recently issued an opinion that “the use of Botox and dermal fillers for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes is within the scope of dental practice in the oral and maxillofacial area, as well as adjacent and associated structures.” The attorney general also stated that while the use of such fillers is appropriate, proper training is necessary. In addition to using Botox for aesthetic purposes, dentists around the country have been using it for the treatment of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders), bruxism, headaches, dental sleep medicine, and orofacial pain treatment. According to Louis Malcmacher, DDS, President of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE), Botox and dermal filler education has been introduced at over 80 dental universities, societies, and continuing education programs nationwide over the last four years, integrating these sorts of procedures into daily dental treatment plans with excellent results.

Cosmetic dentistry has been gaining popularity around the globe in recent years.  While the concept of bettering ones smile is nothing new, modern technology has allowed current day dentists to help patients achieve the bright, white look of their dreams, improving self-esteem and confidence for millions.  A plethora of treatments are available including teeth whitening, bonding, contouring and reshaping, veneers, and dental implants, with new technologies being developed constantly.  One of the latest treatments that experts believe might be introduced soon is the use of Botox in dentistry.  A recent story from the ABC News affiliate out of Denver reported on the details.

Approximately 20 states across the U.S. have addressed the issue of dentists using botulinum toxins, the clinical name for Botox, but not in the way that many would assume.  A Utah law vaguely describes how dentists can administer dermal fillers and other drugs “related to and appropriate in the practice of dentistry.” Currently, using the drug for purposes outside of therapeutic circumstances is off-limits.  The use of Botox has recently been found to help relieve jaw tension and pain associated with teeth grinding and clenching, as well as other conditions, such as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), allowing some dentists to treat patients with chronic pain.  While Botox won’t fix the problem, it can provide temporary relief of constant pain.

Growing interest in the use of dermal fillers in dentistry is forcing a debate over whether it should be used cosmetically also.  Many would argue that Botox injections are well within a cosmetic dentist’s scope of skills considering they administer countless local anesthetics into the cheeks and gums of patients.  Arguably, the use of Botox to eliminate wrinkles around the mouth when creating the perfect smile doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.  And because the injections are only temporary, risk of undesirable side effects is fairly low.  At this point in time though, dermal fillers are only to be used in therapeutic treatments, but the question has been asked; should Botox be used in cosmetic dentistry?

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