Suboxone and Teeth Damage

Pill bottle, pills, dollars and a prescription pad
Suboxone is linked to severe dental problems

Suboxone and Teeth Damage. Suboxone is a popular prescription medication approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Opioid use disorder (OUD). Suboxone is made by Indivior Inc., has its corporate headquarters in Richmond, Virginia, United States.

Suboxone tablets, a buprenorphine and naloxone-based medication were first made by Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc., and approved for the treatment of opioid dependence by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002.

The Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals Inc., held exclusive rights to sell the tablet form of Suboxone until 2009. In 2007, Reckitt Benckiser began working on a sublingual film version of Suboxone, which was approved by the FDA in August 2010.

Indivior is a subsidiary of Reckitt Benckiser. In 1994, Indivior was established as the Buprenorphine division of Reckitt Benckiser. In December 2014, Reckitt Benckiser spun off its specialty pharmaceuticals business into Indivior. Indivior produces Suboxone, an opioid withdrawal medication.

Recent reports have indicated that Suboxone use may be linked to teeth damage resulting in teeth decay and teeth removal.

How does Suboxone work?

Suboxone contains two medications, Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine, is a partial Opioid agonist that blocks the Opioid receptors in the brain reducing the withdrawal symptoms from Opioid detox and can help reduce a person’s desire for Opioids in recovery when used under a physician supervision.

Naloxone was created to reverse the dangerous symptoms of Opioid overdose. The addition of Naloxone with Buprenorphine is to assist with long-term recovery goals by making it difficult to abuse Suboxone.

Buprenorphine has opioid effects that can be abused if taken in large quantities or injected, naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which blocks the effects of opioids. If a person tries to inject or abuse Suboxone, the naloxone will counteract the opioid effects of buprenorphine and can precipitate withdrawal symptoms, making it an unpopular choice for drug abuse.

Suboxone is available in the form of sublingual strips or tablets that are placed under the tongue to dissolve. Suboxone has been heavily promoted as a safe drug to treat opioid addiction and chronic pain to millions of Americans.

Suboxone and Teeth Damage

Suboxone sublingual films are designed to release their active ingredients (buprenorphine and naloxone) directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes in the mouth.

Patients place the thin strip beneath the tongue for 5 to 10 minutes to maximize absorption, allowing it to dissolve completely. Suboxone sublingual strips are acidic and causes a dry mouth leading to reduced saliva that normally protects teeth causing severe tooth enamel erosion and dental problems.

Suboxone may also be directly linked to teeth damage in the same way substances like methamphetamine are known to cause “meth mouth.” Patients using Suboxone have reported dental issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.

Suboxone patients are advised against brushing immediately after application, allowing the acidic residue to contact with teeth, damaging the enamel. This prolonged Suboxone contact can accelerate decay and increase the risk of tooth loss. Several additional factors may add to these dental decay reports:

Dry Mouth: Suboxone reduces saliva production, leading to dry mouth (xerostomia). Saliva is crucial for neutralizing acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and for washing away food particles. Without enough saliva, there is an increased risk of dental decay and gum disease.

Poor Oral Hygiene: Patients recovering from opioid addiction may have neglected their oral health for extended periods, leading to an accumulation of dental problems by the time they start Suboxone treatment.

Diet and Lifestyle Factors: Sugary foods and drinks cravings can increase with the use of Suboxone. High sugar intake is a well-known risk factor for dental decay.

Less Access to Dental Care: People affected by substance abuse may have less access to dental care due to various factors, including financial, social, and psychological barriers.

Suboxone FDA Label Change

A Suboxone warning label update was issued in 2022, noting that many patients were developing painful tooth decay resulting in permanent dental loss. The FDA updated the Suboxone warning label on January 12, 2022, because of a growing number of reports of Suboxone and teeth damage dental problems. Until 2022, the Suboxone film did not contained any warning about tooth decay or dental problems.

At the time, the FDA indicated there had been more than 300 cases of tooth decay and dental problems reported among patients using orally dissolvable buprenorphine medications, 131 cases were classified as serious, with many individuals reporting the dental problems occurring as soon as 2 weeks after treatment began.

Suboxone and Teeth Damage Lawsuits

Lawsuits allege that Suboxone films have a dangerous design defect that promotes tooth decay, and that Indivior, the drug maker failed to disclose and knew or should have known of the severe tooth loss side effects. According to lawsuits filed, Indivior placed its profits above consumer safety, and failed to adequately research tooth decay and tooth loss side effects of the reformulated Suboxone strips.

Recently, the federal court system has ordered that all Suboxone lawsuits over tooth decay problems filed in federal courts should be centralized under U.S. District Judge Philip Calabrese in the Northern District of Ohio for pretrial proceedings.

Medical Studies Linking Suboxone and Tooth Decay

Many case reports and medical studies have highlighted the inherent risks of the dissolvable Buprenorphine drugs with having direct contact with the mouth and teeth.

A recent study published in the medical journal JAMA in December 2022, warning health professionals of the potential risk of dental adverse events associated with long-term use of sublingual or buccal formulations of buprenorphine drugs.

The study reviewed data on 21,404 people using forms of buprenorphine and naloxone combination drugs and found that sublingual forms such as Suboxone were twice as likely to suffer serious dental issues such as large cavities or lost teeth.

“This study found an increase in the risk of adverse dental outcomes associated with sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone compared with transdermal buprenorphine and oral naltrexone. Sublingual buprenorphine/naloxone is acidic in nature. Patients are instructed to hold the tablet under the tongue for 5 to 10 minutes to maximize absorption. Thus, prolonged acidic exposure of the drug in the mouth might lead to tooth damage.”

Suboxone and Teeth Damage? Contact Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm

If you or a loved one used Suboxone and have suffered serious dental problems including dental extractions, contact the attorneys at Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm to learn more about your legal rights. You can speak with one of our representatives by calling 214-390-3189, or by filling out the case evaluation form on this page.

Our law firm’s principal office is in Dallas and we have offices in Fort Worth, Texas. Dr Shezad Malik Law Firm represents clients in dangerous drug and dangerous medical device lawsuits nationwide.


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