If your child has been diagnosed with epilepsy or another seizure disorder, then the physician probably prescribed anti-seizure medications to help reduce the severity and the number of seizures your child experiences.
Medications used in the management of seizure disorders can cause sleepiness, dizziness, confusion, and headache. While these are some of the most common symptoms, these drugs can also cause significant oral side effects in children. Here are some ways anti-seizure medications can affect your child's gums and teeth and why he or she will need to be followed closely by the pediatric dentist.
Hyperplasia Of Gum Tissue
Anti-seizure medications can cause hyperplasia of the gums. This means that the gums become overgrown, and in certain cases, they can even grow over and between the teeth. This condition can make brushing and flossing difficult, and because hyperplasia of the gum tissue can cause pain and bleeding, your child may neglect his or her oral hygiene routine. Make an appointment with your child's physician, who will review the oral side effects of the anti-seizure medication and decrease the dosage if necessary.
Gum hyperplasia is usually the result of higher doses of anti-seizure medication; however, it can occur with low doses as well. If your child develops gum inflammation, redness, irritation, or bleeding, see the pediatric dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.
Epilepsy medications can also raise your child's risk for oral infection and cavities. One reason for this heightened risk is that anti-seizure medications can cause a dry mouth, and when optimal salivary flow is blocked by the use of medications or disease, infection-causing bacteria builds up inside the mouth. To augment brushing and flossing, have your child use a mild saltwater rinse a couple of times a day.
This will help wash away bacteria, decrease inflammation, ease gum irritation, and diminish gum bleeding. If your child develops a gum infection, the dentist may need to prescribe antibiotics to prevent further damage to the gum tissue and underlying structures.
If your child takes medications to control seizures, see the pediatric dentist on a regular basis for examinations and cleanings. If the dentist determines that the gum overgrowth is extensive, he or she may refer your child to a pediatric periodontist, a dentist specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disorders in children. The sooner your child's gum hyperplasia is recognized and treated, the less likely he or she will develop gingivitis, carious teeth, and oral tissue damage.