There are two words often banned from the beauty journalist vocab: game-changing and life-changing. The reason? Beauty products and treatments are rarely that good (just look at the effects of Barbie Botox and buccal fat removal). But my recent experience with masseter Botox has broken that rule because it truly has been both game-changing and life-changing for me.
I’ve always been a bit of a jaw clencher, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to really notice an issue. I'd get severe neck pain, which turned out to be from teeth clenching. Around that time, I continued to hear buzz around people getting Botox due to teeth grinding. But I was never a nighttime grinder per se; mine was daytime clenching. That’s why mouth guards and physio just didn’t work for me. The one thing that did work, besides Botox, is Michaella Bolder's famous deep tissue, inside of the mouth facial, but sadly, I can't have Michaella at my beck and call—as much as I'd love that.
It wasn’t until I’d chipped two (yes, two!) teeth from clenching so badly that I knew I needed to finally book that appointment to try Botox. I booked in to see Dr Ash Soni, founder of The Soni Clinic, who, in my opinion, is one of the best in the business for injectables.
The day came to get Botox in my masseter and the relief was immediate; completely eradicating my jaw and neck pain. However, I know all too well that fear of the unknown is real, especially when it comes to injectables and expensive treatments, so today I’m giving you the lowdown on everything I think you need to know ahead of considering masseter Botox.
What is masseter Botox?
First things first, let’s cover exactly what masseter Botox is. As the name suggests, it’s a treatment where botulinum toxin (because remember: Botox is a brand name) is injected into the masseter muscle; the big muscle you can feel as you bite down. It’s used as such to help treat teeth grinding or clenching, which is known as bruxism.
"The goal is to stop the muscle from contracting, because as it's contracting it's getting bulkier and bulkier—leading to jaw ache, teeth grinding and clenching," explains Dr Soni. "The minute you relax it with Botox, it helps to stop that."
What are the benefits?
The main benefit of Botox in the masseter muscle is to lessen the pain from excessive clenching and grinding of the teeth. Injecting in the area, “stops the masseter contracting and improves jaw aches, teeth grinding, jaw pain at night, as well as prevents the wearing down of your teeth over time, which is an issue with teeth grinding”, explains Dr Soni. Many people aren’t even aware that they’re clenching and grinding, so may not realise that this is the cause of their pain.
There is a second so-called benefit and that’s the 'slimming' effect it can give the face due to the relaxation of that muscle. While I don't believe that anyone should need or want to receive this treatment for its jaw 'slimming' effect (it just pushes a problematic narrative, let's be honest), it is something I personally found to be beneficial, purely because my face shape has changed significantly over the years due to my clenching. The effect isn’t immediate and it's worth noting that not everyone experiences a noticeable slimming effect (particularly if the muscle isn't visually prominent, for example). In my case, this effect might not be super noticeable to others, but it is to me—and that’s all that matters.
What is the process?
Of course, every practitioner is slightly different and has different protocols. Going to someone extremely reputable is always worth it; not only to give the best results possible, but also to give you the easiest, most comfortable appointment possible.
Dr Soni spends the majority of his time doing a consultation during the appointment; talking me through the process and answering any questions I had, plus deciding whether I was a good candidate for the treatment (it was a resounding yes).
First he cleansed the area, then applied a numbing cream, which he let sit and get to work. The practitioner should also explain and outline where the injection is going and what it will do. Once the numbing cream has done the job, it’s removed and the area is ready for the injections. Dr Soni asked me to clench my jaw and then injected into each side. He uses tiny needles so when I tell you I barely felt a thing, I really mean it. I felt a very strange popping sensation as it was injected but it was completely painless and over within minutes.
As Dr Soni has such a light touch, you couldn’t see where the injections were at all, meaning I could go straight out without being conscious of that. I had a slight headache after my appointment, but honestly, that was because I then had a day out in London, including a lunch reservation right after, so the excitement probably got to me. It was nothing some paracetamol couldn’t fix.
Masseter Botox results
As mentioned previously, the relief was instant for me. I felt this just 30 minutes after the appointment and then it continued to get even better over the course of the next month. I can no longer clench and have managed to curb the habit, noticing the times when I'm prone to doing it. My neck pain is completely gone and I don't have tension headaches either.
I could no longer excessively clench or grind, even if I wanted to, without losing the ability to chew. “[Masseter Botox] doesn’t have any functional consequences, because you have a lot of compensatory muscles that aid in chewing, so you shouldn't have any functional deficit at all if you’ve gone to an experienced provider,” he adds.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to get your treatment done by a provider who understands facial anatomy; if you’re getting a 'cheap' deal for any injectables, there’s a reason—and spoiler: it isn’t a good one.
Aside from the jaw pain, I was hoping a secondary benefit to Botox in my masseter muscle was a slight jaw slimming, as the constant clenching has given a squared shape to my face. This isn’t something I noticed immediately but after about 4-6 weeks I really did notice the effect and was pleased.
What's the deal with maintenance?
It can last anywhere between 3-6 months, depending on the severity and how you respond to the treatment. “The beauty of the treatment is that it will start gradually spacing out over time,” says Dr Soni, meaning that your symptoms should continue to improve and you won’t need as many sessions over time.
Masseter Botox is also dose-dependent, meaning “some people would need a higher dose than others depending on the size of the muscle or the bulkiness of the muscle. This is assessed on clinical examination as well as symptomatically what their issue is.” Dr Soni starts with 50 units and if symptoms don't resolve, he tops-up at the follow-up appointment.
Does masseter Botox work for everyone?
It’s important to note that everyone is different, and although a large number of people experience relief from masseter Botox, not everyone will. Having said that, “almost all of the patients I’ve ever injected [for teeth grinding and clenching] have complete relief or at least very very good relief,” says Dr Soni, so the chances are pretty high.
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Tori is a freelance beauty journalist and contributor for Marie Claire. She has written for various titles, including Allure, Glamour, Elle, Refinery29, Brides, and more. Currently training to be a nail tech, Tori is a total nail enthusiast and always has time to talk all things nail art. When she’s not writing about beauty and testing products, Tori can be found walking her rescue dog Pip, drinking great coffee, and eating as many croissants as humanly possible.
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