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Managing Epilepsy And Oral Health


A neurological disease called epilepsy is characterised by uncontrollable and frequent seizures. For individuals managing seizures, anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are commonly used to control symptoms.
However, it’s important to be aware that epilepsy and these medications can sometimes have oral effects. At Gallery Dental, we believe in empowering our patients with knowledge to effectively manage their epilepsy and maintain good oral health. Let’s delve into the details.

Exploring Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder of the nervous system that causes abnormal activity in the brain, leading to seizures or changes in behaviour and awareness. The condition can be hereditary or caused by factors such as head trauma, brain tumours, stroke (especially in adults over age 35), diseases like meningitis and AIDS, viral encephalitis, injuries before birth, or developmental disorders.
Surprisingly, the exact cause of epilepsy remains unknown in 75% of diagnosed cases, as reported by the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Epilepsy can affect individuals of all ages, genders, and ethnic backgrounds, but it occurs more frequently in men and affects less than 1% of the population.

Recognizing Common Symptoms

While the signs of epilepsy may vary, there are certain symptoms typically associated with generalized seizures, wherein the entire brain is affected. These symptoms, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Temporary confusion, eye blinking, or a staring spell.
  • Sudden collapse.
  • Abrupt, uncontrollable jerking or stiffness of the arms and legs.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Oral Health Risks

During generalized seizures, there is a risk of injury to the tongue and other areas of the mouth, as highlighted by the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Seizures can also damage the temporomandibular joints or lead to the aspiration of a tooth into the lungs.
Regrettably, the drugs used to manage epilepsy may have side effects in the oral cavity. Gingival hyperplasia, an overgrowth of gum tissue, is a common side effect associated with AEDs, especially phenytoin, which is frequently prescribed to children. The Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology reports that gingival hyperplasia affects approximately 50% of patients taking phenytoin.
A study that was published in the Journal of International Oral Health suggests that AEDs can also result in xerostomia, or dry mouth. According to the American Dental Association, having a dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay since saliva is important for removing bacteria and food particles from the teeth.

Managing Epilepsy and Oral Health

At Gallery Dental, we understand the unique challenges faced by individuals with epilepsy. To mitigate risks and ensure optimal oral health, we recommend the following measures:
Consider fixed prosthetics: Dentures and removable partial prosthetics may pose a hazard during seizures. For enhanced safety, fixed prosthetics are often recommended for individuals with epilepsy.
Protect your teeth: Wearing a mouth guard while sleeping can help prevent dental trauma resulting from seizures.
Address gingival hyperplasia: If severe gingival hyperplasia develops, surgical treatment to remove excess gum tissue may be necessary. Regular dental check-ups enable early detection and intervention.
Embrace good oral hygiene practices: Our dentists closely evaluate epileptic patients for signs of gingival hyperplasia and dry mouth. They will provide personalized oral hygiene guidance, which may include:

  1. Flossing daily to maintain healthy gums.
  2. Brushing frequently throughout the day with fluoride toothpaste, including before bedtime.
  3. Following a nutritious diet to support overall oral health.
  4. Utilizing mints

For more information, please contact Gallery Dental.

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