I grind my teeth and it has been really getting me down. I have noticed it more and more lately and it was particularly bad when I was poorly last week and couldn’t wear my guard – I kept coughing so it was not staying in! You see, when I don’t wear the guard, I wake up with a stiff jaw, sore neck, aching masseter muscles and generally I feel tense – which doesn’t help me one bit with my coaching work or radio job, or in anything for that matter.
Apparently the massester muscle is one of the strongest muscles in the body and by definition it is muscle that runs through the rear part of the cheek from the temporal bone to the lower jaw on each side and closes the jaw in chewing.
After writing about my bruxism a few weeks ago, I had messages from women saying that muscle relaxant injections worked for them, so it re-affirmed what I was already thinking – to try it out. My dentist had suggested it a year ago and so this did feel like a natural next step for me.
Dr Tania Robakowska, who has a clinic in Westgate-on-Sea Kent, messaged me saying she would love to show me the benefits of injections for bruxism and I have to say I jumped at the chance. I’d hit a point where I was fed up. I hate grinding my teeth, the faff of cleaning the guard and more importantly the pain it gives me.
10 days ago, Tania and I had a Zoom consultation and she explained that botulinum toxins are used for all types of muscles relaxing and not just for cosmetic procedures. She told me that the toxin is injected into the masseter muscle to help to relax it. My first thought was “will I still be able to talk” and my second one was “I want that!”. Tania reassured me that I will be able to talk – phew – and that the complex mouth and tongue muscles are the power behind this (yep I am not scientific) and the fact of the matter was that for me, my muscles and working over time, and are actually really big!
Today I went to see Tania at her clinic in Westgate-on-Sea, which is actually a short walk from my office. She has a bright, immaculately clean large clinic space which is super welcoming. Tania took a number of photos of me doing the clench/relax/clench/relax thing and we had a good chat about the procedure before I signed her digital consent form.
Tania marked out the areas she wanted to inject (I did more clench/relax/clench/relax stuff) using a soft white pencil, designed for marking the skin. The drawings looked a bit like a triangle shape, which was pretty much the area of my masseter muscle.
Then it was injection time! I am not nervous about injections at all thankfully, especially when they are being poked into your face! eek. I can’t remember how many needle pricks (sharp scratch) I felt on each side, but I know from talking it through with Tania that we went quite low for this first dose of botulinum toxin, in this case she used the brand Azzalure. After the injections were complete, I was asked to clench/relax/clench/relax a few times to get the toxins into the right places within my muscles.
The effects of the toxin can take up to two weeks, so less is always more, and I am back in the clinic in two weeks to review the results., where a top-up may or may not be needed.
The after care advice was to chew chewing gum for a short while afterwards, not lie down (no chance of that – straight back to work for me) and to wear my guard until we see each other again in a couple of weeks.
Thank you so much to Tania – her approach is caring, subtle and I know she isn’t keen on over-doing it! I know that many people fear muscle relaxant injections because they are scared of looking super-shiny and fake – I know that Tania isn’t about that – she works with people nd really understands the needs of her patients. My injections weren’t for wrinkle smoothing reasons, but for an over-worked jaw because I grind my teeth – which, I hope, will soon be a thing of the past.
I have to say I am adding back onto the mix; yoga and stretching just help my feel even more relaxed. Teeth grinding is linked to stress, so it is really time to up the calm in my life – with three kids I’ll give it my best shot!
Stay tuned for Part 2 in a week or so.
Read my original post on my teeth-grinding (bruxism) here
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