Celebrated annually on March 26, Epilepsy Awareness Day, or Purple Day, was created to increase the public’s understanding of this brain disorder and to eliminate the fear and stigma surrounding it.

Oral Health Risks

Generalized seizures create a risk for injuries to patients tongue and other areas of the mouth, as the University of Washington School of Dentistry explains. Seizures may also damage the temporomandibular joints or cause an individual to aspirate a tooth into the lungs.

Unfortunately, the drugs used to control this disorder can also produce side effects in the mouth. One side effect often associated with AEDs is gingival hyperplasia, an overgrowth of gum tissue. As an article published in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology states, phenytoin is an AED frequently used in children, and it may cause gingival hyperplasia in 50% of the patients who take it.

A study in the Journal of International Oral Health states that AEDs may also cause xerostomia, or dry mouth. Since saliva washes food debris and bacteria from your teeth, dry mouth can make you more susceptible to tooth decay, explains the American Dental Association.

Managing Epilepsy and Oral Health

Since dentures and removable partial prosthetics can break or create a choking hazard during seizures, fixed prosthetics may be a better option for people with epilepsy, according to the University of Washington School of Dentistry. To prevent trauma to the teeth overnight, a dentist may suggest wearing a mouth guard. If a patient develops severe gingival hyperplasia, they may need surgical treatment to remove the excess gum tissue.

A dentist will closely evaluate an epileptic patient for any signs of gingival hyperplasia or dry mouth, and they will share the following oral hygiene steps to help them prevent tooth decay and gum disease:

Floss daily.

Brush frequently throughout the day and at bedtime with fluoride toothpaste. Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate nutrition.

Use mints or lozenges with xylitol to stimulate saliva production and prevent cavities. 

A medical team made up of a doctor and dentist is there to help you or your loved one manage epilepsy. If you’re worried about the effects of epilepsy on oral health, know that your dentist is always available to help you keep your smile bright and your teeth and gums healthy.