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:
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.
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.
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 microorganisms, and may even help dampen gum inflammation.
If your child’s gums begin to hurt, bleed, slough, or ooze yellowish drainage, make an appointment with the dentist. These may be signs of infection which may need to be treated with a course of oral antibiotics.
Gum enlargement may lead to ill-fitting braces. Prior to getting braces, the orthodontist takes panoramic X-rays or your child’s mouth and impressions of the teeth to evaluate measurements. When gum tissue swells and grows out of control, these measurements change.
When this happens, the braces may become too tight and may even cause the teeth to shift out of proper position. If gingival hyperplasia becomes severe, the braces may need to be removed until the gums revert back to normal.
Braces that do not fit properly may permanently harm the teeth and gums, and while minor adjustments can be made to ensure a proper fit, severe gum disfigurement may warrant removal of the hardware.
If your child takes anti-seizure medication and develops gum problems, the physician might lower the dosage. Gum overgrowth may be more common in children who take high doses of phenytoin, so if the dosage is decreased, oral side effects may be less likely to occur. If you notice any changes in your child’s teeth or gums, make an appointment with the orthodontist for further evaluation and appropriate treatment. Contact a company like Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics for more information.