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Managing Oral Surgery With Sleep Apnea

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Finding out that you need oral surgery can be a bit nerve-wracking, but for most people, it's a completely safe procedure to undergo. However, if you have sleep apnea, things can get a little more complicated. Read on to learn why sleep apnea could affect how your oral surgery is performed and what options you have.

The Problem Sleep Apnea Causes

If you have sleep apnea, you already know that it causes the airway to become blocked when you're lying down or asleep. This is clearly an issue if you're going to be going under the knife, as general anesthesia would put you in a state of deep sleep. Simply supplying you with oxygen isn't enough, as it can't open the airway, and using your CPAP machine - if you have one - isn't an option, since it would block your mouth with its mask.

Intubation Isn't a Fix

If you've had any other form of surgery or have ever considered needing surgery while you've been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you probably know about intubation. Intubation is typically performed any time a person is put under general anesthesia, but it's not an option with dental surgery. The reasoning is the same as why you couldn't use a CPAP machine: it would block your mouth off, preventing access. While you could expect to have a safe general surgery even with sleep apnea, in short, there's no completely safe way to put you under general anesthesia in the dentist's office if you have sleep apnea. However, that doesn't mean that you're out of options.

Local Anesthesia and Sedation

Once your dentist knows about your sleep apnea, they will most likely opt to perform the surgery with local anesthesia and mild sedation.

Local anesthesia is the act of numbing the area that is going to be worked on. This generally involves topical numbing products followed by an injection of Novocaine. You can be rest assured that you won't feel a thing during a complex oral surgery, even while awake.

However, if your oral surgery is long, you might be worried about getting anxious during the operation. Dentists usually combine local anesthesia with sedation in order to help their patients to relax if they can't be put under. Sedation dentistry will give you a mild sense of being at ease and perhaps sleepy, but patients don't generally fall asleep while sedated. As such, it's a perfect choice for sleep apnea patients.

If you have sleep apnea, you must discuss it with your sedation dentistry professional prior to having their procedure so they can form a plan to treat you. Thankfully, you can still count on being comfortable and well taken care of during your procedure, even if you have sleep apnea.