Options If You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted But Have Sleep Apnea

If you've been told that your wisdom teeth are developing and need to be extracted, you're not alone. An estimated 85% of people need to have their wisdom teeth removed due to a lack of space in the jaw. Unfortunately, this can pose a problem if you have sleep apnea. Read on to learn what kinds of complications sleep apnea can cause if you need your wisdom teeth removed and what you can do.

Why It's a Problem

Sleep apnea isn't just snoring - it's a disorder that can cause your respiration to be interrupted while you're sleeping. The airway that allows you to breathe relaxes too much while you're asleep, and can effectively collapse, ceasing your breathing. This can cause a wide variety of problems, ranging from mild to severe, like poor sleep quality or even brain damage.

Unfortunately, sleep apnea can also cause a problem for dental work. General anesthesia is typically used for advanced dental surgery like wisdom tooth extraction, but placing you under anesthesia is like having you go to sleep. Your windpipe could collapse, keeping you from breathing while under.

The typical solution with surgical procedures is to intubate, but for dental work, this isn't possible. An intubation tube would get in the way of your mouth and teeth, preventing the work from being done. So then, what are your options?

Lose Weight

If your wisdom teeth are just beginning to develop and aren't in dire need of removal, it's a good idea to start losing weight. Excess weight is one common cause of sleep apnea, and in many cases, simply losing some weight will stop your sleep apnea entirely. You should work with your general physician to choose a weight loss plan that works for you and to monitor your sleep apnea. Your doctor may suggest a night at a sleep lab in order to confirm whether your sleep apnea has stopped following your weight loss.

Local Anesthesia

If weight loss isn't enough or you aren't able to lose enough weight to stop the disorder, your dentist can use local anesthesia instead. This means using the same numbing techniques that your dentist employs when they perform a procedure like drilling a tooth. Your mouth will be injected with novocaine to thoroughly numb you from feeling discomfort or pain while the procedure is performed.

Dentists typically choose general anesthesia because wisdom tooth extraction can take a couple of hours to finish, which can be tiresome for some patients to endure. However, if you don't have any other options, local anesthesia can get the job done.

Rest assured that if your wisdom teeth need to come out, it can be done even with sleep apnea. If you have time before your extraction is necessary, work with your dentist and doctor to get yourself in the best physical condition possible and to try and reverse your sleep apnea.