Epilepsy and oral health

Epilepsy and oral health

National Epilepsy Week is promoted between 20th and 26th May. We at BPI Dental thought this a timely reminder to share some information on the condition.

More than half a million people in the UK live with Epilepsy. The condition is described as the tendency to have multiple seizures that start in the brain. Basically, the electrical signals usually passed between nerves in the brain are disrupted. There are over 40 types of seizures with limitless potential triggers, so everyone is affected differently. It is both a neurological and physical condition with many possible causes. These include genetic tendencies (either inherited or not) and structural changes in the brain due to underdevelopment, tumours, growths or trauma.

Most people don’t hurt themselves during a seizure, but injuries are certainly possible. For example, lip, cheek and tongue biting, as well as tooth grinding are all common. A person may also collapse and hit their head or another part of their body on the floor. It is possible for people to hit their face, in particular, which can result in a loose or cracked tooth. Should a tooth be knocked out entirely, it’s important to rinse it in water or milk and get it back in the mouth as quickly as possible.

Epilepsy and oral health

It’s really important to tell your BPI Dental team if you or your child has epilepsy. Not only do we need to be aware in case of a seizure in the dental chair, but it can also impact both your oral health and dental treatment.

The vast majority of people living with epilepsy will be prescribed medications to help reduce and manage their seizures. Known as ‘antiepileptic drugs’ or AEDs, these medications come with an array of potential side affects that affect the mouth. These include a higher risk of bleeding gums, dry mouth, inflammation of soft tissues in the mouth, distorted sense of taste, dental caries and gum disease. In addition, some AEDs need to be carefully managed when dental procedures requiring anaesthetics are required.

As always, maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for anyone living with epilepsy. We’d be more than happy to provide bespoke information on how you could improve your dental health or that of your children if needed – just ask next time you visit.

How you can help

How to help someone experiencing an epileptic seizure:

  • Stay calm
  • Only move them if they are in a dangerous environment
  • Move any furniture or other objects away from them
  • Place a cushion or jumper under their head
  • Do not hold them down
  • Check what time the seizure started – if it lasts more than 5 minutes, call 999

How to help someone after a seizure:

  • Gently move them into the recovery position
  • Check their airways are unobstructed and that their breathing returns to normal – if not, call 999
  • Stay with them until they recover
  • Offer reassurance and possibly help them get home or somewhere they can sleep

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