Q&A on Masseter Hypertrophy

1) What is the role of the Masseter muscle?

The masseter muscle is an important facial muscle that assists in the chewing of solid food. This is the jaw muscle and is considered the strongest in our body in terms of exerting pressure. It connects the jaw bone with the cheekbone. This muscle has an important role in the facial beauty of a person. The muscle consists of three different layers namely, the superficial layer, the intermediate layer, deep layer and it works in coordination with the nearby muscles for movement of the jawbone and the temporomandibular joint.

2) What is the cause of masseter hypertrophy?

Hypertrophy of the masseter muscle is a rare condition, and the cause is also said to be unknown. This happens when there is an enlargement of the masseter muscle causing asymmetry in the facial structure. People claim it to be because of defective teeth, clenching of the jaw, temporomandibular joint disorder, emotional reasons, and congenital and functional hypertrophy. It can be due to bruxism, involuntary teeth grinding at night. This may be with or without pain and is mistakenly thought to be a disorder of the parotid gland. 

3) How is masseter hypertrophy diagnosed?

Masseter hypertrophy may be present as an increase in the volume of muscle mass. Most people approach the doctor due to a change in their facial appearance. They find an asymmetry in their face. Some people may also feel pain, muscle stress, headache, or trismus. The doctor may suggest clinical examination, panoramic X-ray, and muscle palpation to get a better diagnosis. 
Palpation is done by pressing the muscle against the mandible while keeping the mouth wide open. There are other conditions that may have similar symptoms and it is necessary to eliminate them.

4) Is there a way I can relax the masseter muscles naturally?

You can try a masseter massage to relieve the tension in the area surrounding your jaw. For this, you have to first identify the location of the muscle. This is located along your cheeks on both the sides of your jaw. It runs vertically from near the ears to the angle of the jaw. Once you have identified it, use your fingers to knead the muscle. If there are any trigger points, hold on to them to relieve tension. A massage can be given every time you feel stressed by closing the fist and kneading on either side of the face. This can help lessen the stress at these points.

5) How is masseter hypertrophy treated?

If you are experiencing pain, muscle relaxants may be prescribed to ease the pain. Bite adjustments, dental restorations, and using teeth splints, are some of the methods used for the correction of hypertrophy. There are other minimally invasive methods like correcting the jaw through surgical methods or taking Botulinum Toxin Type A injections. The toxin in the injection can cause a reduction in the muscle mass by numbing the muscle and it addresses both the masseter muscle and the parotid gland.

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