Are You at Risk? Identifying Factors for Suboxone-Related Tooth Decay

Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid dependence, has been a lifesaver for many people struggling with addiction. However, a recent concern has emerged: Suboxone use has been linked to an increased risk of tooth decay. 

While the medication is a valuable treatment option, understanding the factors that contribute to this risk is crucial.

This article explores the various factors that can influence your risk of developing tooth decay while taking Suboxone.

An Overview of the Medication and Emerging Dental Concerns

Suboxone, a medication that blends buprenorphine and naloxone, stands as a crucial asset in addressing opioid addiction. Its mechanism involves easing withdrawal symptoms and diminishing dependence.

Since its introduction in the early 2000s, the medication has been widely prescribed as a safer alternative to methadone. This is due to its lower risk of abuse and accidental overdose. Administered orally, it is dissolved under the tongue, typically taking between 15 to 30 minutes to fully dissolve. 

Despite its efficacy in addiction treatment, recent concerns have emerged regarding its potential impact on dental health. According to Forbes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public warning in January 2022. The agency linked oral buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, to dental problems. 

Subsequently, the FDA updated the drug’s warning label to include dental adverse events, acknowledging potential risks associated with its use.

More recently, the Suboxone lawsuit has gained traction. As of May 2024, more than 200 lawsuits are pending against its manufacturer alleging a failure to warn about the potential for dental problems. 

According to TorHoerman Law, these lawsuits claim that the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risks associated with the medication. However, they failed to adequately inform patients and doctors. While no settlements or trials have been announced yet, these lawsuits highlight the growing concern surrounding the medication and potential dental complications.

Factors Affecting Suboxone-Related Tooth Decay

While the medication can increase the risk of tooth decay, the severity of the risk can vary depending on several factors. Here’s a breakdown of some key elements to consider:

1. Dosage and Duration of Use

According to Medscape, patients as young as 18 years old and up to 42 years old have developed dental issues while using buprenorphine. Surprisingly, out of 305 identified cases, 26 cases involved patients with no prior dental issues. 

In some cases, dental problems surfaced as early as two weeks after treatment initiation, while others were diagnosed after about two years. Tooth extraction was the most common treatment, with root canals, dental surgery, and other procedures also reported.

However, it was noted that higher dosages and prolonged use of Suboxone increase the risk of dental problems.

2. Pre-Existing Dental Conditions

If you already have existing dental problems, taking Suboxone might increase your risk of further complications. 

Existing cavities or gum disease weaken your teeth and gums. This makes them more susceptible to damage from the acidic environment created by the medication, leading to a faster progression of decay.

3. Oral Hygiene Habits

Maintaining impeccable oral hygiene is vital for everyone, but even more so for Suboxone users. Diligent brushing twice daily and flossing regularly remove food particles and bacteria that contribute to decay. 

The medication can create a more favorable environment for bacteria. Therefore, a strong oral hygiene routine becomes your frontline defense against potential dental problems.

4. Dry Mouth

One of Suboxone’s potential side effects is dry mouth, a condition medically known as xerostomia. Saliva is essential for preserving oral health. It washes away food particles and bacteria, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria, and helps maintain a healthy balance of minerals in your mouth.

According to, when Suboxone reduces saliva flow, this delicate balance is disrupted. The lack of saliva creates a dry environment where bacteria can thrive. These bacteria feed on sugars and starches, producing acids that erode tooth enamel and contribute to decay. 

Additionally, the reduced cleansing action of saliva allows food particles and bacteria to linger in the mouth for longer periods. This further increases the risk of cavities. Lawsuits against Suboxone manufacturers highlight this concern, citing the potential link between dry mouth caused by buprenorphine and increased tooth decay. 

5. Diet

Sugary foods and drinks are the bad guys in the oral health game. Bacteria in your mouth love these sugary treats, using them as fuel to multiply and produce acids that attack your tooth enamel. Suboxone can already create a more hospitable environment for bacteria. Adding a sugary diet on top of that is like giving them a five-star feast.

To minimize your risk of decay, limit sugary intake. Choose water over sugary drinks and opt for healthier snacks. Remember, a balanced diet is good for your overall health, and helps keep your smile healthy while taking the medication.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Suboxone lawsuit for tooth decay?

The Suboxone lawsuit revolves around the failure to warn patients and prescribing doctors about the medication’s risk of severe dental problems. Plaintiffs allege that the defendants prioritized profits over people. They claim this was done by withholding crucial information about the potential for tooth decay and other dental injuries associated with the medication’s use.

Why does buprenorphine cause tooth decay?

Buprenorphine, while reducing opioid dependency, can lower pH levels in the mouth, creating an acidic environment. This acidity can erode tooth enamel, the protective outer layer of teeth. Despite its effectiveness in reducing opioid dependence, buprenorphine’s acidic effects contribute to tooth decay.

Does Suboxone interfere with dental procedures?

Suboxone typically doesn’t interfere with dental procedures involving Novocaine. While informing your dentist about medications is crucial, the medication’s effects on opioid painkillers don’t affect Novocaine, which isn’t an opioid.

In conclusion, Suboxone is a valuable medication for treating opioid dependence. However, recent concerns about its potential link to tooth decay highlight the importance of taking proactive steps to protect your oral health.

Remember, communication with your doctor is key. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have about the drug and its impact on your oral health. Together, you can create a treatment plan that tackles both your addiction and your dental health.

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