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Epilepsy and Oral Health

Posted on 3/21/2022 by Joshua M. Ignatowicz DMD & Associates
Female patient consulting with her dentist in front of a bright window When people think of epilepsy, they typically think of seizures and the brain. However, epilepsy also has a significant effect on oral health. In fact, evidence show that patients with epilepsy actually have more oral health needs and are at a higher risk for oral health diseases. This is because of 2 different contributing factors.

Oral Health Risks

During seizures and convulsions (that are common to patients with epilepsy), a number of dental problems can occur.
•  Biting the tongue, lips, and cheeks
•  Teeth may become chipped or cracked
•  Tooth loss (from being knocked out)
•  Jaw fracture
•  TMJ or disc location, due to trauma
•  Tooth aspiration (into the lungs)

Effects of Epilepsy Medication

The medications that are used to control seizures can also cause oral health problems. The most common side effects include:
•  Gingival Hyperplasia (an overgrowth of gum tissue), which can lead to increased plaque levels and gum disease.
•  Xerostomia (dry mouth), which can increase risk of decay.
•  Lower levels of Vitamin D, increasing the risk for demineralization and decay.

Managing Oral Health with Epilepsy

There are several things patients can do to help maintain good oral health and avoid dental problems that result from epilepsy.
•  Try wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent trauma to teeth.
•  Surgical treatment can be utilized to remove excessive gum tissue.
•  Brush and floss daily, using fluoridated toothpaste and proper technique.
•  Maintain a healthy diet to ensure proper nutrition.
•  Prevent cavities by increasing saliva production. This can be done by chewing sugar-free gum, sucking on sugar-free mints or hard candies, and by use of saliva substitute such as Biotene.

Epilepsy and Dental Appointment Tips

One of the most important things you can do is to make sure to see your dentist and hygienist at least twice a year. Dental appointments for patients with epilepsy can be more difficult. Here are some tips:
•  Make your dental appointment to avoid times when you commonly have seizures.
•  On the day of the appointment, keep your daily routine as normal as possible.
•  If helpful, bring eye covers and/or soft music to listen to during treatment.
•  Make sure both your dentist and your hygienist are aware of your epilepsy.
•  Be sure to give a full list of medications.
•  Let them know about any issues you have had with anesthesia in the past.
•  Give them information about the seizure type, frequency, and triggers.
•  Have a written plan in place, in case of emergency. This can be put in your dental patient file and/or brought with you to your appointments.

While there are many health considerations for people with epilepsy, good oral hygiene and prompt, regular visits to the dentist should be a top priority. If you have questions about how oral care is affected by epilepsy, make an appointment to see your dental care provider today.
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