Toothbrushing May Trigger Epileptic Seizures

Case reports confirm seizures in three patients with lesions in the brain's somatosensory area

MONDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- In some patients with epilepsy, toothbrushing may trigger seizures, according to three case reports published in the March 6 issue of Neurology.

Wendyl D'Souza, M.P.H., of the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues described the three cases, including a 31-year-old woman who developed seizures during vigorous toothbrushing that included an ill-defined aura of a "numb feeling in her head"; a 33-year-old man who developed tingling in the tongue, tightening of the jaw, and vigorous salivation during toothbrushing that sometimes progressed to 60- to 90-second episodes of twitching movements on the right side of his face; and a 42-year-old man whose seizures were triggered by a first mouthful of food or toothbrushing and included an "odd sensation of cramping" in his tongue and left jaw.

The researchers found that all three cases were confirmed by video monitoring. They also found that all three patients had lesions in the somatosensory area of the brain, which is close to the hand and speech motor areas.

"This provides evidence that our cases of reflex toothbrushing epilepsy primarily involve somatosensory rather than integrated higher cortical pathways," the authors write. "Together with the evidence of a short electroclinical latency between provoking stimulus and primary motor strip seizure propagation, toothbrushing-induced seizures should be reclassified as simple rather than complex reflex epilepsy."

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