If you use an appliance for sleep apnea to assist your breathing at night, you are not alone. It is estimated that 2%-4% of older adults are afflicted with medical condition. Risk factors for sleep apnea include weight, race, sex, substance and alcohol use, and smoking. This can complicate procedures in which a patient needs to be sedated, including dental procedures. This may prevent some patients from getting critical dental care, but this does not need to be the case. You can work with your dentist to create a customized sedation plan that will keep your oral care on track, ease your anxiety about dental procedures, and be safe despite your sleep apnea.
During the initial visit
When filling out your medical history forms at your dentist, be sure to note that you use a breathing apparatus for sleep apnea. Patients with Sleep Apnea, particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnea, should not be fully put under as they are more likely to stop breathing or suffer airway obstruction. However, this does not mean that you can't be sedated in other ways so that you won't notice pain sensations or experience excess anxiety.
Alternatives to Full Sedation
Oral sedation, also known as anxiolysis, may be your best bet for anxiety free dentistry with sleep apnea. Central Nervous System drugs can be used to slow down your brain into a state of extreme relaxation. You are not actually asleep, but you are relaxed enough for the dentist to administer any local anesthetics that are necessary and then proceed with your treatment. You may not even remember the procedure afterwards.
There are several different options for pharmaceuticals that can be administered for your dental procedure. It is imperative that you tell your dentist about any other medical conditions that you may have and any medication that you on, including herbal supplements and vitamins. It is also important to be completely honest with your dentist about how much you smoke or drink and if you are currently taking any street drugs. Your dentist is not there to judge you are lecture you, it is extremely important to know all of these factors before your procedure. Your dentist can select the oral sedative based off of your lifestyle. He or she will select the drug that is the least likely to interact with anything else in your system. Using an oxygen mask during your procedure should also be encouraged. Your dentist may also want to create a personalized sleep apnea appliance to help you breathe better at night.