Dental Health in Children with Seizures

Published on: 08/10/2018

What are seizures?

Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. An imbalance causes surges of electrical activity which leads to seizures.

How do seizures affect the oral health of children?

Children with seizures can present many dental problems due to the oral side effects of the seizure medications.

Oral health considerations for seizures

  • Side effects of medication can result in an overgrowth of gingiva, dry mouth, increased incidence of oral infection, delayed healing and bleeding gums.
  • If any of these side effects are present, the dentist may consult with the patient’s physician to determine if any changes in medication would be beneficial.


Dental Management and Prevention

Prevention is essential in managing the dental health of the child with seizures. Scheduling the child for early professional dental examinations is recommended.

Tips for Proper Dental Hygiene

  • The child should take their anti-seizure medication as they normally would on the day of dental treatment.
  • Avoid any seizure triggers before and during the dental procedure. The child may wear sunglasses or headphones to minimize any triggers.
  • Apply topical fluoride and visit the dentist every 6 months.
  • Parents should begin brushing when the first baby tooth erupts and should assist their child in brushing until the child reaches 8 years of age.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste; for children under 3 years old use a smear amount of fluoridated toothpaste and for children above 4 years old use a pea size amount.
  • Parents should monitor dietary practices (i.e. avoid prolonged use of bottle, reduce amounts of sugar consumed, reduce frequency of sugar consumed).


Preparing a child with Seizures for a Dental Appointment

Discuss the medications currently being taken with the child's dentist. The dentist should be informed of the type of seizures and the specific seizure triggers. For children with uncontrolled seizures, a consult with the neurologist is necessary.

 

Michelle Aliotti, DMD - Nicklaus Children's Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program

References

Berg, A.T., Et. al. 2013. The epidemiology of seizure disorders in infancy and childhood: definitions and classifications. Handbook of Clinical Neurology. 111: 391-398.

Shafer, Patricia. Learn About Epilepsy. Epilepsy Foundation website. http://www.epilepsy.com. Published January, 2014. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Epilepsy Fact Sheet. World Health Organization website. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs999/en/. Updated February 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Seizures. A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Medline plus website. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003200.htm. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Academy of General Dentistry. Know your teeth website. http://www.knowyourteeth.com. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Epilepsy Overview. Mayo Clinic website. www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/dxc-20117207. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Rodriguez, Diana. Preventing Epilepsy Seizures. Everyday Health website. https://www.everydayhealth.com/epilepsy/preventing-epilepsy-seizures.aspx. Updated February, 21, 2012. Accessed September 1, 2017.

Cherney, Kristeen. Long Term Prognosis for Epilepsy. Healthline website. http://www.healthline.com/health/long-term-prognosis-epilepsy. Published May 30, 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.


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