Epilepsy And Oral Care - How To Prevent A Dental Break

Posted on: 11 March 2015


If you have epilepsy, then you have a chronic neurological disorder that involves sensory disturbances and convulsions. Seizures occur with the disorder, and these incidents present when electrical activity increases substantially within the brain. Most people take medications that control the seizures. If you take these medicines, then you may only experience occasional seizures. Even an occasional seizure can cause major damage to the teeth though, and a crack or break may be likely when your jaw muscles contract violently. You can prevent these types of injuries by doing the following things.

Control Gum Overgrowth

If you take certain types of seizure medications, then you may see an overgrowth of gum tissues in your mouth. The tissues grow thick and large, because prescriptions stimulate the growth of the external cells that sit across the gums and they also force connective tissues to grow. Several different types of seizure medications can cause the issue, but it is most often seen in people who take phenytoin.  

When the gums start to grow, then large portions of the previously exposed teeth may become covered. The gums may then be broken or scraped when you chew on hard or crunchy foods. The cuts allow bacteria to move into the openings and infections can occur. The increase in bacteria can cause demineralization, erosion, and cavities to form on the teeth. This weakens the protective layer of enamel and leaves the teeth susceptible to breaks.

You can reduce gum problems by making sure to brush and floss daily. You should also consider using a water flosser to clean in small cracks and openings around the teeth and gums. If possible, ask your doctor if you are able to switch medications as well. Phenytoin is a hydantoin anticonvulsant medication, so consider a medication in another drug class to reduce gum issues.

Consider Gum Removal

If you are unable to change your medication or if gum do not recede quickly after your prescription change, then consider asking your dentist to remove overgrown tissues in the mouth. This type of procedures is called a gingevectomy, and your dental professional will complete a thorough cleaning before the surgery is completed. The cleaning will release calculus and plaque from the teeth to reduce bacterial activity so microorganisms do not enter the bloodstream.

Once the cleaning is over, your dentist will use a scalpel, laser, or angled blade to remove abnormal tissue growths around the teeth. The surgical area will be dressed and the gums will be left to heal for about a week.

Wear a Mouth Guard

Studies indicate that between 7.5% and 45% of people with epilepsy experience night or sleep seizures. For some individuals, seizures many only occur in the evening. These incidents occur due to the change in brain activity that occurs during the first two phases of sleep. If you have seizures in the evening, then it may be wise to protect your teeth with a mouth guard worn in the evening.

Many people know that it is not safe to stick objects in the mouth when an individual is having a seizure. Hard items often contribute to dental, gum tissue, tongue, and cheek injuries. This is not the case for mouth guards though, because these implements cushion the teeth and keep them protected from hard jaw pressure.

Bruxism Guards

The best protection can be offered through a bruxism guard. Bruxism or nighttime grinding guards are meant to withstand a great deal of pressure. The implements also conform precisely to your teeth and they snap into place so they are unlikely to come loose during a seizure event. Ask your dentist to make a guard for you. Rigid acrylic guards are often constructed for individuals with severe types of tooth grinding, and they will offer the best protection during a seizure as well.

Once your dental guard is made, wear it every evening. Also, consider keeping the guard in your purse or pocket so it can be secured in your mouth if you feel that a seizure may present.

If you have epilepsy, then it is possible that a seizure may cause you to break a tooth. You can prevent dental issues by controlling gum overgrowth to keep the teeth strong. You also can protect your teeth with the use of dental guards.