Brushing your teeth can set off an epileptic fit, say researchers. Take heart, not many, at least in Australia, have a reason to risk brushing their teeth. Here only 2 percent of the population has a lesion on their brain near the hand and mouth motor region, which causes such fits . Out of these very few will actually trigger off fits while brushing their teeth.
The researchers, Wendy D'Souza, a neurologist at St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne and team, who published results of their findings in the journal Neurology, say that these epileptic fits are similar to those caused by photic stimulation such as repetitive movement of lights.
According to the researchers, repetitive brushing of the teeth stimulates a portion of the mouth that triggers the seizures, by sending an electrical signal to a part of the brain, which has this lesion, and causing these jerking sorts of seizures.
The researchers documented the case of three patients who suffered fits while brushing their teeth. The lesions were discovered via MRI scans of the brain.
The seizures were confirmed by video monitoring and found to occur when people brushed the sides of their mouths, and caused their faces to jerk and twitch.
One patient salivated vigorously while another couldn't let go of the toothbrush during the seizure.
Says D'Souza: " In one patient we [removed the lesion] because the patient wanted to try and stop the seizures and not need medication, by the end of which the patient became seizure-free."
"The long-term solution is to control the seizures with medication if possible and by brushing less vigorously. The option of surgery is there, but it there is a risk of damaging other brain structures in the area."
The researchers believe that the breakthrough will help neurologists understand how the most common triggers like sleep and stress can spark fits.
"The tooth-brushing trigger is very, very unusual, but now we understand what's behind it the implications are great," says D'Souza.