Oral Health Risks of Suboxone Use

Key Takeaways:

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns about dental problems associated with sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone exposure, including Suboxone tooth decay, dental disease, and other oral health issues.
  • Patients prescribed Suboxone tablets for opioid use disorder and chronic pain may experience permanent tooth decay, dental decay, and Suboxone rot, even with regular dental checkups.
  • Prescribing information for buprenorphine medicines should include clear warnings about dental problems to ensure patients and providers can make informed decisions and take steps to maximize absorption while minimizing oral health risks.

Overview of Oral Health Risks of Suboxone Use

On this page, we’ll provide an overview of the oral health risks of Suboxone use, preventing oral health problems with Suboxone, how to join the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit, and much more.

Oral Health Risks of Suboxone Use

Intro to Oral Health Risks of Suboxone Use

The FDA has identified over 300 cases of dental adverse events associated with buprenorphine include:

  • Extensive tooth decay and oral infections
  • Soft enamel and tooth erosion
  • Need for major dental treatment like root canals, crowns, implants, and dentures.
  • Loss of multiple teeth or all teeth

If you have experienced worsening dental health while taking Suboxone or other buprenorphine products to treat opioid use disorder, you may be entitled to compensation.

Contact TruLawsuit Info today for a free, no-obligation case review to see if you qualify to file a lawsuit for your Suboxone-related dental problems.

Table of Contents

FDA Warning on Suboxone and Dental Problems

In 2022, the FDA issued a drug safety communication warning that sublingual buprenorphine products like Suboxone can cause severe and rapid dental caries and damage.

The buprenorphine medicines dissolved in the mouth can cause dry mouth, acid erosion, and bacterial changes, dramatically increasing the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Patients and providers must be aware of these significant dental risks and take proactive steps to prevent and manage oral health issues during Suboxone treatment.

These dental problems occurred even in patients with no prior dental health issues and sometimes emerged within a few weeks of starting the medicine.

Despite these dental risks, the FDA emphasizes that the benefits of properly managed buprenorphine medications still outweigh the oral health problems for treating opioid addiction.

Some patients have required extensive dental work to address the rapid tooth decay and dental damage caused by Suboxone films and tablets.

Suppose the manufacturer fails to warn of these oral health risks adequately.

In that case, patients may be able to take legal action to recover damages for dental treatment, pain and suffering, and other losses related to permanent dental damage.

How Suboxone Causes Dental Problems

Several factors related to the way sublingual buprenorphine-naloxone products work contribute to the high risk of dental issues.

The acidic nature of the medication, the way it reduces saliva, and its direct, prolonged contact with teeth and gums combine to create a perfect storm for oral health problems.

Understanding these mechanisms can help patients and providers take steps to counteract adverse dental outcomes.

Dry Mouth and Acid Erosion

One of the most significant ways Suboxone damages dental health is by reducing saliva production, leading to chronic dry mouth (xerostomia).

Saliva is crucial for preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease because it:

  1. Neutralizes harmful acids in the mouth
  2. Re-mineralizes and strengthens tooth enamel
  3. Controls cavity-causing bacteria
  4. Washes away food particles and debris

Without enough saliva, the caries risk skyrockets.

At the same time, the acidic pH of the dissolving Suboxone sublingual film or tablet can directly erode and soften enamel, especially with long-term use.

This demineralization makes teeth more vulnerable to decay.

Oral Microbiome Alterations

Suboxone disrupts the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth, creating an environment that favors the growth of specific strains that cause tooth decay and gum inflammation.

Some research suggests that buprenorphine may increase dental biofilm’s acidity and cariogenic potential.

Many patients with opioid dependence also have co-occurring factors that exacerbate Suboxone’s adverse dental effects, such as:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • High sugar intake
  • Infrequent dental checkups
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Comorbid health conditions like diabetes or acid reflux

The interplay of medication side effects, microbiome changes, and behavioral factors create a high-risk scenario for rapidly progressing dental caries and periodontal disease in patients taking sublingual buprenorphine for opioid use disorder.

Preventing Oral Health Problems with Suboxone

While the dental risks of Suboxone are significant, most patients can prevent severe dental issues with a combination of good oral hygiene, smart medication management, and regular dental care.

Prescribers play a key role in educating patients about oral health risks and how to minimize them.

A team approach involving the Suboxone provider, dentist, and patient is ideal for maintaining dental health during OUD treatment.

Patient Oral Hygiene and Dental Care

The most important things patients can do to counteract Suboxone’s dental side effects are to maintain meticulous oral hygiene and get frequent dental checkups.

Key practices include:

  1. Rinsing the mouth with water immediately after the Suboxone dose dissolves to clear away remaining medication and neutralize acid
  2. Waiting at least one hour to brush teeth to avoid abrading acid-softened enamel
  3. Brushing twice daily for two minutes with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste, using proper technique
  4. Flossing daily and using an alcohol-free antimicrobial mouthwash
  5. Scheduling dental exams and cleanings every 3-6 months
  6. Using sugar-free gum, oral lubricants, or saliva stimulants to alleviate dry mouth
  7. Limiting sugary and acidic foods and drinks

In some cases, patients may benefit from additional measures like prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste, fluoride varnish applications, or more frequent cleanings.

The dentist can make personalized recommendations based on the patient’s specific oral health status and caries risk assessment.

Provider Role in Oral Health Management

Suboxone prescribers and other members of the addiction treatment team are uniquely positioned to help patients prevent and manage dental problems.

Key steps health professionals should take include:

  • Educating patients about the oral health risks of Suboxone before starting treatment as part of informed consent
  • Screening for dental issues and referring patients for a cleaning and exam
  • Collaborating with the patient’s dentist to tailor the oral health care plan
  • Considering alternative buprenorphine products for patients with severe dry mouth or rapidly progressing decay
  • Monitoring for dental problems at each visit and facilitating prompt treatment

Some patients with opioid use disorder hesitate to see a dentist due to stigma, dental phobia, or financial barriers.

Prescribers can provide reassurance, help patients find a compassionate provider, and connect them with resources for low-cost dental care.

Integrated programs that offer on-site or closely linked dental services may improve access and outcomes.

When to Seek Dental Care or Modify Treatment

Patients who notice signs of dental problems while taking Suboxone should schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible.

Warning signs to watch for include:

  • Tooth sensitivity or pain, feeling like teeth are sore
  • Visible holes, pits, or dark spots on teeth
  • Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Loose teeth or widening spaces between teeth
  • Mouth sores or pus
  • Tooth fractures or cracks

In severe cases, the dentist and Suboxone prescriber may decide to modify the buprenorphine treatment plan to facilitate dental restoration.

Patients should never stop or change their Suboxone dose without consulting their prescriber, as this can trigger withdrawal symptoms and increase the risk of relapse.

The risks of uncontrolled opioid addiction still outweigh even severe dental problems, so it’s crucial to maintain an effective dose of buprenorphine whenever possible.

Maintaining Addiction Recovery and Oral Health

While Suboxone’s dental side effects are daunting, it’s important to remember that this medication plays a vital role in managing the opioid crisis and saving lives.

Suboxone and other buprenorphine medicines are among the most effective tools for helping patients achieve and sustain recovery.

When used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, buprenorphine:

  • Reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, reducing the risk of relapse and overdose
  • Improves retention in treatment and long-term recovery outcomes
  • Enhances social, occupational, and psychological functioning
  • Lowers the risk of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C
  • Decreases criminal activity related to drug use

Patients who are struggling with oral health problems on Suboxone should work closely with their providers to stabilize their dental condition without compromising their recovery.

In most cases, a combination of improved oral hygiene, smart medication management, and regular dental care can control tooth decay and gum disease while the patient continues buprenorphine treatment.

Overcoming Barriers to Dental Care

For many patients in addiction recovery, getting the dental treatment they need can be challenging.

Financial constraints, fear of stigma, dental phobias, and logistical issues can all make it difficult to access dental care.

Many patients face obstacles to getting the dental treatment they need during addiction recovery, such as:

  • Lack of dental insurance or difficulty affording care
  • Stigma or judgment from dental professionals
  • Dental anxiety or phobia
  • Transportation or scheduling challenges

Patients should be proactive in communicating their needs and concerns to both their addiction treatment team and their dental care providers.

Remember, there is no shame in seeking help for oral health issues; addressing these problems will only support long-term recovery.

Managing Suboxone's Dental Side Effects While Maintaining Recovery

Suboxone and other orally dissolving buprenorphine products can cause significant dental problems, including cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.

These medication side effects are serious and can be discouraging for patients already struggling with opioid use disorder.

However, the risks of untreated opioid addiction are far greater than even the most severe dental issues.

Most patients can prevent or manage Suboxone-related dental problems with scrupulous oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and a team approach to care.

Addiction treatment providers must educate patients about oral health risks, monitor for dental issues, and coordinate with dental professionals to ensure patients get the necessary care.

Maximizing Your Suboxone Settlement with TruLawsuit Info

Suppose you have developed serious dental problems while taking Suboxone or other buprenorphine medicines dissolved in the mouth to treat opioid use disorder and chronic pain. In that case, you may be entitled to compensation through a lawsuit.

Contact TruLawsuit Info for a free consultation to learn more about your legal rights and options.

With a proactive, integrated approach to oral health and recovery, patients can successfully manage Suboxone’s dental side effects while achieving the life-saving benefits of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

If you are struggling with opioid addiction and dental health issues, reach out for help today.

With the right support and resources, a healthier future is within reach.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a Suboxone class action lawsuit in 2024?

    No, individual claims are consolidating under multidistrict litigation.

    The creation of the Suboxone MDL is a significant step towards a potential global resolution of these claims.

    Bellwether trials will assess the strength of the allegations and gauge potential Suboxone settlement values.

  • What dental problems does Suboxone cause?

    Suboxone can cause tooth decay, dental disease, oral infections, and other oral health issues.

    The FDA warns that long-term Suboxone use may lead to permanent tooth decay, tooth loss, and the need for extensive dental work.

  • How common is tooth decay from Suboxone?

    Tooth decay is a common side effect of Suboxone use.

    Studies suggest that over 40% of patients taking Suboxone for opioid use disorder and chronic pain experience dental problems, with some developing issues within the first year of treatment.

  • What should I do if my teeth hurt while taking Suboxone?

    If you experience tooth pain, sensitivity, or other signs of dental problems while taking Suboxone, contact your healthcare provider and dentist immediately.

    They can assess your oral health, recommend treatment options, and discuss ways to minimize further dental damage.

  • Are there alternatives to Suboxone that don't cause tooth decay?

    While all orally dissolving buprenorphine products carry some risk of dental issues, alternative formulations like buccal films, transdermal patches, or injectable buprenorphine may be less likely to cause tooth decay.

    Talk to your doctor about the best option for your needs.

  • How can I prevent dental problems while taking Suboxone?

    To prevent dental problems while taking Suboxone, practice good oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash), schedule regular dental check-ups, and follow your provider’s instructions for medication use.

    Rinsing your mouth after each dose and minimizing sugary drinks and foods can also help protect your teeth.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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Here, at Tru Lawsuit Info, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

To do this, we actively work to connect them with attorneys who are experts in litigating cases similar to theirs.

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