Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Epilepsy Health Center

Font Size

Toothbrushing Triggers Rare Seizures

Researchers Report 3 Patients With Reflex Epilepsy Suffer Seizures From Brushing Teeth
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 5, 2007 -- Australian researchers report three rare cases of people with epilepsy in whom toothbrushing triggered seizures.

The risk of such seizures is probably zero for people without epilepsy.

The three patients all had reflex epilepsy, in which seizures can be provoked by specific stimuli instead of happening spontaneously.

What's more, all three patients had a lesion in the same brain area, according to brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Researchers including Wendyl D'Souza of Australia's University of Melbourne describe the cases in Neurology.

One patient was a 31-year-old woman with reflex epilepsy. She tended to have seizures when she brushed her teeth vigorously. She reported an aura described as a "numb feeling in her head."

Another patient was a 33-year-old man with reflex epilepsy in whom toothbrushing triggered tongue tingling, jaw tightening, salivating, and occasional twitching on the right side of his face for 60-90 seconds. He was most likely to have seizures while brushing his right lower teeth. But he also had seizures while eating potato chips.

The third patient was a 42-year-old man who had cramping in his tongue and left jaw when brushing his teeth or, occasionally, when eating.

The rhythmic action of toothbrushing might stimulate the brain area that triggered the seizures, note D'Souza and colleagues.

Toothbrushing, with its persistent rhythm, is probably more likely to stimulate that brain area than chewing, according to the researchers.

Today on WebMD

human head and brain waves
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Grand mal seizure
How is each one different?
marijuana plant
CBD, a plant chemical, may cut down seizures.
prescription bottle
Which medication is right for you?
Seizures Driving
Questions for Doctor Epilepsy
Graces Magic Diet
Pills spilling from bottle in front of clock
first aid kit
Caring Child Epilepsy
Making Home Safe
epilepsy monitoring