Botox for Masseter muscles - what is it?

Botox for Masseter muscles - what is it?

Botox injections to the masseter muscle can be a cure for teeth grinding and clenching.  Many patients have come to me with complaints of jaw pain, and sometimes it radiates into the neck and anterior neck muscles, causing headaches.   Strong masseter muscles give the jaw a wide lateral projection, which in turn produces a square, masculine face. This can be unflattering for women and men alike. Botox shrinks the masseter muscles and slims the face.  Botox is the only method of reducing the jaw without surgery.

How can I tell if I have strong masseters?

Do you grind or clench at night?  Do you wake up feeling like you just chewed a rubber steak for hours?  Do you often get headaches and pain in your neck?  The pain can be debilitating over time.  You can feel your masseter muscles by clenching your teeth - you will feel a strong bulge in your mid and lower cheek as you clench and release.

Why are my masseter muscles large?

Prominent masseters are more common in patients of Asian descent (Korean, Chinese, etc).   However, anyone can be born with prominent masseter muscles.

Like any other muscle, the more the masseter is used,  the stronger it becomes.  Chewing gum can be a culprit, as can grinding teeth. The medical name for grinding or clenching teeth is Bruxism.  Most patients report grinding and clenching while they are sleeping, a subconscious behavior that can be related to stress and other changes.  Many patients will use a "night guard" that is provided to them by their dentist.  Sometimes this treatment is ineffective and Botox becomes a safe, effective option.


A clinical study completed in 2014 showed that botox could reduce the masseter muscle by 12%.  Yes, 12%.  Peak reduction was seen at three months, with results lasting up to six months.  Other CT-guided studies have showed a reduction of masseter mass by 22-30%.

One great side effect of masseter treatments with botox is a slimming of the face, causing cheek bones to look higher and eyes to become a more noticable feature of the face.  As the masseters decrease in bulk, the jawline can also look more defined.  That being said, the best aspect of this treatment is an elimination of debilitating pain.  

Treatment of bruxism has been life-changing for me.  I have treated myself for three years now and I have zero clenching, pain, or grinding.  If you experience any of these symptoms, we would be happy to set up and evaluation.