Tenn. legalizes Botox use for oral surgeons
Article Thumbnail ImageFebruary 4, 2011 -- Dental Botox use is rising in popularity, and although the practice still has many opponents, general dentists in Tennessee could soon inject the drug with the law on their side.
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The Tennessee Board of Dentistry has approved the use of Botox injections or future FDA-approved neurotoxins by oral and maxillofacial surgeons. The rule went into effect January 20, 2011.

Although general dentists in Tennessee are currently not allowed to administer Botox, discussions are under way that could change that. The process began last fall when a dentist petitioned the board to enquire if Botox could be used for the treatment of craniofacial pain. The board referred the Botox issue to its Clinical Issues Committee, an advisory committee, for study and recommendations.

“Botox could be effective in controlling the pain for up to three months.”
— Clifton Simmons, DDS

After discussing the issue, the committee decided to consult with the Anesthesia Committee, another Tennessee dental board advisory committee, Clifton Simmons, DDS, who is a member of both committees, told DrBicuspid.com.

Dr. Simmons has a private practice in Nashville, and 85% of his practice is devoted to treating patients with craniofacial pain, he said. Botox could benefit some of his patients, especially those who suffer from chronic muscle spasms, he explained.

"Botox could be effective in controlling the pain for up to three months, whereas local anesthesia injections last for a few hours," Dr. Simmons said.

The issue being considered by the Tennessee dental board committees relates to the use of Botox by general dentists in a craniofacial pain setting only and was not requested for, nor is it being considered for, cosmetic use, according to Dr. Simmons.

As for oral and maxillofacial surgeons, apart from Botox they are allowed to perform a number of procedures that are cosmetic in nature, including the following:

  • Rhinoplasty
  • Blepharoplasty
  • Rytidectomy
  • Submental liposuction
  • Laser resurfacing
  • Brow lift, either open or endoscopic technique
  • Platysmal muscle plication
  • Dermabrasion
  • Otoplasty
  • Lip augmentation

To perform these procedures, the board requires them to complete a clinical fellowship of at least one year in aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery accredited by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons or by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation. They can also perform them if they hold privileges issued by a credentialing committee of a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission.

As for the general dentists, the two committees have decided to ask the board for more time to develop guidelines under which they may be able to use the drug for craniofacial pain. There is currently no timeline for when a decision will be reached on the matter, Dr. Simmons said.

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