What does Botox have to do with dentistry? While long thought of as a treatment for cosmetic problems, such as eliminating lines on the face or other wrinkles, several therapeutic uses have been found in dentistry as well. The injection of Botox is considered a “minimally invasive procedure,” and has shown “quite promising results in the management of muscle-generated dental diseases.” Botox has also been used to treat functional and aesthetic conditions. (1)
If you’re considering Botox training courses for dentists, and you want to understand the benefits you stand to gain for yourself and your practice, start by considering how Botox came to hold its role in dentistry today, and what it can do for your patients. The following is a brief history of how Botox was discovered, and how it came to be used more widely in the medical field. We will also go into some of the potential benefits of adding this tool to your practice, and why you should consider it carefully:
What Is Botox?
“Botox” is a brand name, and now the common way of referring to a strain of botulinum toxin. The idea of using the toxin—which interrupts some signal transmission in nerves while allowing sensory transmission—for therapeutic purposes dates back to the German physician Justinus Kerner (1786-1862). Kerner called it a “sausage poison,” having noticed the illness it led to after a patient ate bad sausage. A later German doctor, John Muller, called the illness “botulism” (from the Latin “botulus” or “sausage”) in 1870. (2)
Further medical advances in the twentieth century led to a strain ultimately being approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989, under its now common name “Botox”. In the intervening years, the number of uses for which it has been approved by the FDA has grown, and so has its popularity. (2)
Botox’s Rising Popularity In Dental Practice
As Botox became increasingly popular, there was controversy around if and how it would be appropriate for dentists to use in their practice. Writing in an editorial in Oral Health Journal in 2010, dentist Janet Roberts argued that it was time for dentists to open up to the possibility that Botox could help their patients. (3)
Roberts argued that the days when a dentist could dismiss a patient’s concern over the appearance of their teeth or smile as a merely cosmetic concern were coming to an end. Instead of dismissing such remarks, dentists were growing “willing to listen to their patients’ concerns about the appearance of their teeth.” (3)
Roberts pushed for dentists to understand aesthetic and functional concerns as “partners in achieving optimal health” rather than opposing ideas. After all, as she points out, studies have shown “a strong relationship between stress, depression and periodontal disease,” with some suggesting that being able to smile can have an impact on our psychological wellbeing, above and beyond giving patients more satisfied with their appearance. (3)
Beyond Botox, dentists may consider aesthetic medicine more broadly, as Botox is only one of a number of procedures that you could consider performing. If you are a dentist or dental therapist considering expanding your skill set in that area, you could look to resources such as the Aesthetic Training Hub.
Why Dentists Are Well Suited To Injecting Botox
Roberts also listed another important reason for dentists to consider learning about Botox and its uses: they may be good at it. Plus, if they don’t do it, their patients may simply find someone else who will. Performing a procedure like this when appropriate could be an important part of a dentist’s role in assisting the overall health of a patient. (3)
As Roberts puts it, “dentists are uniquely suited,” for providing this treatment, due to their skills in understanding the aesthetics and balance of the face, and because they “have extensive training in the anatomy of the head and neck.” Dentists regularly perform more invasive procedures, and she argues, “when properly trained, there is arguably no better practitioner to provide Botox.” It would certainly be better, she argues than having patients receive injections without the supervision of a doctor, dentist or any other medical professional at a so-called “home party”. (3)
Pros For You And Your Patients
Taking a course to train yourself in Botox and its use for your patients may enable you to help them in many ways. Many may still be suffering from the misconception that its uses are purely cosmetic, but alongside aesthetic concerns, Botox is believed by many to treat a host of conditions, including:
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Oromandibular dystonia
- Mandibular spasm
- Pathologic clenching
- Dental implant and surgery
- Gummy smile
- Masseteric hypertrophy (4)
Take just the first as an example. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may result in “facial pain, joint sounds, headache,” as well as pain in the neck and limited movement of the jaw. Rather than performing the usual treatments, which are often “invasive, irreversible, and expensive,” Botox can provide an alternative. (4)
Since its approval by the FDA in 1989, Botox has risen steadily in popularity and been used for a wide variety of procedures. Its relationship with the dental practice has been historically turbulent, but nowadays people are focusing more on how it might benefit patient health. There has been studying into how the ability to smile may directly affect mental health, and Botox may be a useful tool in this capacity.
If you are a dentist considering courses for Botox, the major pros are that you may be able to better serve your patients, while expanding your expertise in an area that you’re likely to do well with. Many might be under the impression that Botox is used purely for aesthetic procedures, but it has also been known to help with various conditions.
It is understandable and even responsible to have reservations around adding a foreign tool to your practice, but at the very least, the possible benefits may constitute just cause for your serious consideration.