The Epilepsy Society is calling on the NHS to provide free dental repairs for people with epilepsy whose teeth are damaged as a result of their seizure, with a campaign called 'Fix It For Free'.
Data from the Epilepsy Society show that half of people who have suffered dental injuries during a seizure have not had them repaired because they can't afford the treatment. Sixty-nine percent had broken or chipped teeth, 61% had painful jaws and 31% had lost teeth. For many that means living without the teeth they have lost.
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive at the Epilepsy Society, said: 'If a person breaks their nose, or their arm or leg as a result of a seizure, the injury will be repaired for free on the NHS. But if they break their teeth - and many with epilepsy do - they are expected to foot the bill themselves or get by without their teeth.
'When someone is too scared to smile because half their teeth are missing, they instantly lose their self-confidence, stop going out, withdraw into themselves and become isolated.
'Teeth are not an optional cosmetic accessory; they are an intrinsic part of who we are and how we communicate with one another.
'There are 200,000 people in the UK with uncontrolled seizures. When they crash to the ground without warning, the NHS must be there to pick up the pieces, literally.
'We all know the NHS is struggling, but the financial burden should not fall on people who are already coping with a debilitating disability. We must all do what we can to support the NHS. But it is not right to stand back and watch people with epilepsy shoulder the cost alone in broken teeth and shattered self-confidence.'
The NHS offers a number of payment exemptions for dental treatment, but there are currently no medical exemptions. The NHS Low Income Scheme covers costs for some people, but 76% of respondents to the Epilepsy Society survey said they were not eligible.
More information can be found at www.epilepsysociety.org.uk.
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Charity calls on NHS for free dental repairs for people with epilepsy. Br Dent J 235, 373 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-023-6361-0