Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Epilepsy Awareness Month Day 25: Epilepsy and Dental Care

Anti-epilepsy medications can ruin a person’s teeth

Robert is very comfortable at the dentist
Robert has always been good about brushing his teeth but when he lived independently he didn’t regularly see a dentist.  As we found out this year, the dentist he did see actually did not do very good work (root canals were not properly done, for instance). 

When I took over Robert’s care and he lived in a care facility, he was eligible for regular dental cleanings and check-ups as well as a deep cleaning under general anesthesia.  This made me very nervous and I agreed to it once.  At that time, the dentist said his teeth were in good shape and Robert didn’t need any work done. 

Side rant: How much sense does it make that Robert was eligible for four cleanings per year as well as the deep cleaning every two years yet is not eligible for that while living with me?  I am a reasonable person and would love to know the thinking behind that “logic.”

Anyway, two years later I took Robert to a dental group that supposedly took Medicaid and who proceeded to tell me Robert needed twenty thousand dollars in dental work.  Not only that but the dentist did a cursory cleaning on Robert (which hurt him) and made disparaging comments about him while doing it. 

I filed a complaint and got our money back (Medicaid did not pay for the services contrary to what this company said). I then took Robert to my own dentist.

Robert needed work done but it was not even close to $20,000 worth! The x-rays done showed previous work and the dentist pointed out the improperly done root canals.  Over the course of a few months, Robert underwent a lot of dental work (fillings, crowns and deep cleanings) and I took over brushing his teeth. 

Robert has difficulty keeping his teeth as clean as they should be because of his dexterity issues. After Robert’s summer of hospitalizations and SNFs, we have not gotten back into the routine of me brushing his teeth. 

It showed at the cleaning visit today. 

Keeping Robert’s teeth clean is not just a matter of vanity. Robert is prone to pneumonia and one huge, contributing factor is the bacteria living in his mouth and then traveling to his lungs.  Good oral health helps with good overall health. 

During Epilepsy Awareness Month in 2012, I interviewed Teresa Stallone who also has felt the impact of anti-epilepsy medications on her dental health. Because dental care is rarely covered by Medicare or Medicaid, essential dental work is often placed on the back-burner.  As Teresa said, after developing a life-threatening infection due to severe periodontal disease, “I am experiencing major health consequences as a result, including more breakthrough seizures thanks to medication to ease relentless pain.”

This absolutely should not be tolerated. Dental care is as essential as medical care yet it seems insurance (whether federally or state funded or otherwise) has not caught up to this fact.
People living with epilepsy need to be particularly diligent with their oral hygiene and health. Those caring for someone with epilepsy can help with this task with reminders, visits to the dentist or even helping to brush.  We can also help advocate for better dental coverage and for the awareness of the need for great oral health. 

In the video today, Robert talks about going to the dentist and I stress the importance of good oral health. 

The puppy also demands some camera time!

1 comment:

Five Dock physiotherapist said...

Really, it is a good dental care picture. I think when I need to take dental care than i should come to take dental care form here. I hope that they will provide good care.