Driftless Health: More confidence, less pain Botox injections offer more than cosmetic benefits

By By Jenniffer Bissell

A new service offered by Waukon Dental is giving patients more confidence and reduced pain from conditions like Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ).

Dr. Jessica Wilke recently completed training to offer Botox injection services at the dental practice. While widely regarded as a treatment to reduce wrinkles, Wilke explained the easy procedure can also help with facial and jaw discomfort.

What are Botox injections?

Botox is made from botulism, the same toxin that causes a type of food poisoning. While originally discovered in the late 1800s, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1989 for therapeutic use. 

According to mayoclinic.org, “Botox injections are shots that use a toxin to prevent a muscle from moving for a limited time. These shots are often used to smooth wrinkles on the face. They’re also used to treat neck spasms, sweating, overactive bladder, lazy eye and other conditions. Botox shots also may help prevent migraines.”

The shots block specific signals from the nerves to the muscles, allowing those muscles to relax. They’re used to ease symptoms, not to cure any problems. 

Offered in Waukon

For Wilke, offering Botox injections came about as a way to treat patients with particular jaw and facial pain.

To become certified to provide the injections at the dental practice, she took several courses, both in-person and online. Waukon Dental began advertising the procedure in late 2022.

Wilke explained that it’s a common connection between dentistry and offering Botox injections because of the human anatomy involved.

“It’s becoming more of something that dentists offer and are comfortable doing because a lot of it comes from knowing nerves and the anatomy of face, head and neck, and that’s our whole wheelhouse,” she explained. 

Wilke said that while a common perception of Botox is the “Hollywood frozen face,” she explains to her patients that Botox can be used to create a softer appearance. 

“It’s a muscle relaxer. It targets specific muscles. For some people, it might be for cosmetic reasons, like to reduce forehead wrinkles or crow’s feet. Those wrinkles come from muscle movement. You can relax those muscles so the skin over the top doesn’t wrinkle with those movements,” she said. 

Another common use of Botox in her practice is to assist patients who suffer from TMJ, which is a condition that causes pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles used to move the jaw. 

“I have so many patients who complain of pain in the jaw,” she said. “We’re a stressed out society, and people tend to clench and grind their teeth. I didn’t have a great option to offer people, but I can use Botox to target the specific muscles of the jaw. This can reduce headache pain, jaw pain, wear and tear on the teeth from grinding. It’s a nice solution to the problem.”

Wilke explained that the benefits of Botox depend on where it’s targeted, but people can expect a reduction in pain or a smoother facial appearance, depending on where it’s targeted.

“It makes them feel good about themselves. It’s a fun, satisfying way to brighten their appearance,” said Wilke. 

Wilke said a disadvantage is that results typically last three months, so patients will need to return if they want to continue to see results.

“One thing I think is people have concerns that they will look totally different or will have a frozen face or an overdone sort of appearance. That’s why I was trained to be very conservative in dosage so for most patients they’re able to attain a very natural but a little softer expression. It’s not a total lack of movement in forehead,” she said. “Overall patients have been very happy, People aren’t going to think, ‘wow you had work done’ but you’ll look and feel more youthful.”

Fun for everyone

Having been in medical use for several decades, Wilke said Botox has been extensively studied and is safe for most people. She said they don’t treat patients who are pregnant as a “overabundance of caution.” There are also certain patients who wouldn’t be good candidates for the treatment because of having certain nerve-related conditions.

“For the bulk of the population, it’s very safe because it’s a targeted, local treatment,” she said. 

When a patient has their initial consultation, Wilke said she spends time going over what patients can expect and taking photos. She said the treatment itself takes just a few minutes. She encourages patients to avoid touching the treatment area for the remainder of the day and to avoid heavy exercise. They are able to resume normal activity the following day.

Overall, Wilke is pleased with the public response, saying it’s been a benefit for the patients as well as for her staff.

“I think my staff and I too have had fun with it,” she said. “It’s so fun that our patients are excited about it and leave the office feeling good about themselves.”

To learn more about the Botox services at Waukon Dental, call 563-568-4528. 

Dr. Wilke performs a botox injection, one of the services offered at Waukon Dental. (submitted photos)

“We’re a stressed out society, and people tend to clench and grind their teeth. I didn’t have a great option to offer people, but I can use Botox to target the specific muscles of the jaw. This can reduce headache pain, jaw pain, wear and tear on the teeth from grinding. It’s a nice solution to the problem.”

– Dr. Jessica Wilke

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