Children who suffer from seizure disorders are often prescribed anticonvulsants such as phenytoin. While this medication is very effective in reducing the frequency and the intensity of seizures, it can lead to severe side effects such as confusion, lethargy, dizziness, and gastrointestinal problems. Another adverse reaction related to anti-seizure medications is an oral condition known as gum hyperplasia, gingival enlargement, or gum overgrowth. This condition can be especially troublesome for children who wear braces. However, visiting your pediatric orthodontist on a regular basis can help reduce your child’s risk for complications. Here are 4 ways anti-seizure drugs can hurt your child’s teeth and gums and what you can do about them: Gum Proliferation Not only can drug-induced gingival enlargement cause the abnormal overgrowth of gum tissue to proliferate into your child’s braces and in-between the teeth, it can also lead to other problems. According to NCBI, “gingival enlargement produces adverse esthetic challenges, functional impairment and clinical symptoms which includes gingival pain, tenderness, bleeding, speech disturbances, abnormal tooth movement and dental malocclusion.” In addition to this, gum hyperplasia can also lead to dental cavities and heighten the risk for a severe form of gingivitis known as periodontitis. This condition can cause destruction to the bones that support your child’s teeth, and in severe cases, may result in tooth loss. A periodontist can examine your child’s gums and develop an effective treatment plan, which may include oral surgery, to help de-bulk the gum tissue. However, this procedure may need to be postponed until your child’s braces are removed.  Bleeding Gums Gum tissue that grows under your child’s hardware can make the posts poke into sensitive gum tissue, which can lead to bleeding. This bleeding may worsen every time your child brushes and flosses. Sometimes, the bleeding can become so profuse, that it can frighten a child into avoiding oral care altogether. It is imperative that a meticulous regimen of oral hygiene be performed if gum hyperplasia is present, and it is especially crucial when children have braces. If your child’s hardware is damaging the already inflamed gum tissue, your pediatric orthodontist needs to evaluate and treat the problem. In the meantime, warm saltwater rinses can help soothe irritation, and may even help reduce the risk for infection.  Infection Risk Because overgrown gum tissue tends to grow out of control, and in between the spaces of the teeth and under your child’s brackets, effective brushing and flossing may not be enough to eliminate infection-causing oral bacteria. To reduce the risk for an oral infection, your child’s orthodontist may recommend an antimicrobial mouthwash to use a couple of times a day, or after brushing and flossing. This will help eliminate bacteria and other...