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Epilepsy, Seizure Meds Have Oral Health Implications

 

Three million Americans suffer from epilepsy, a central nervous system disorder resulting in recurrent seizures, which can be frightening and potentially dangerous. Additionally, seizures may have implications for oral health and dental care, according to an article in the July/August 2003 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). If you suffer from seizures, it is crucial that you keep your dentist informed, according to author Eric T. Stoopler, DMD.

 

"It's extremely important for patients to give their dentist a thorough history of their seizures and lists of medications and dosages. Dentists also should be updated on patients' progress with their neurologists and other health care professionals," says Dr. Stoopler.

 

Seizures can be treated with medication or, in some instances, surgery; but antiseizure drugs often have side effects that can cause oral health problems or complicate dental procedures. Additionally, drugs commonly used in dentistry could induce seizure activity in epileptics.

 

Dr. Stoopler urges seizure sufferers to make sure their dentist is aware of their specific conditions. And most important, you should make sure that your dentist knows how to handle a seizure should you have one during a dental treatment, says Dr. Stoopler.

 

"Armed with the full knowledge of a patient's condition, a dentist can take all the necessary steps to ensure a safe and comfortable visit," according to AGD spokesperson Mark Ritz, DDS, MAGD.

 

Drs. Ritz and Stoopler also urge epileptics to visit their dentist frequently, as side effects such as dry mouth and overgrown gums require careful attention to oral hygiene.

 

Side effects of seizure medications:

 

  • Increased incidence of infection
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • Gingival hypertrophy (overgrown gums)
  • Delayed healing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Postoperative bleeding

Dental visit tips for epileptics:

 

  • Take medication prior to your appointment.
  • Inform your dentist of your complete medical history, including seizure history, medications and dosages and contact information for other health care providers.
  • Schedule appointments within a few hours of taking medication.
  • Tell the dental team immediately if you experience an aura.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before your appointment.

Reviewed: January 2012

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