What Is Suboxone®?

Suboxone® is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone prescribed as a film strip that dissolves under the tongue and is used to reduce the withdrawal symptoms connected to opioid withdrawal. It is an opioid itself and produces the same effects but at a very low dose.

When taken as prescribed, it also reduces overdoses and the potential for opioid misuse. Over time, your prescribing doctor will lower the Suboxone® dose until you are completely weaned off the drug.

What Is The Suboxone® Dental Lawsuit?

The Suboxone® Dental Lawsuit is a class-action lawsuit against Indivior, the manufacturers of Suboxone®, regarding the long-term effects of taking buprenorphine, its main ingredient. One of the main effects of taking Suboxone® long-term is the serious dental damage and decay it causes, costing people a great deal of money to fix these issues.

The Suboxone® lawsuit claims that doctors and patients were not made aware of the extensive tooth decay that could occur while taking Suboxone®. Had they known, they may have chosen to avoid Suboxone® and select a different type of treatment to overcome their opioid use disorder (OUD). Recipients of Suboxone® prescriptions were not warned that taking oral Suboxone® strips that dissolve in the mouth could lead to tooth decay or other dental issues.

The lawsuit is ongoing, and anyone who took Suboxone® and now has dental issues can seek legal advice regarding the lawsuit at any time.

Who Qualifies For The Suboxone® Dental Lawsuit?

Anyone who received a prescription for Suboxone® before June 2022 and, after taking it, began having dental problems may qualify for the lawsuit. Being able to prove your teeth and gums were healthy before you began taking Suboxone® increases the strength of your case. Dental problems that may appear after taking Suboxone® include cracks, chips, decay, erosion, or pain.

Every person has a different experience with Suboxone®, with various symptoms and outcomes. Also, each state may have a different statute of limitations. Therefore, each person must consult a lawyer working on the class-action lawsuit to determine their qualifications.

Dental Injuries Linked To Suboxone

In 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning about the dental problems associated with Suboxone®. More specifically, they warned people who consume any medications containing buprenorphine that is dissolved in the mouth that the following problems may exist:

  • Tooth decay
  • Cavities
  • Oral infections
  • Tooth loss

At the time of the release, the FDA identified 305 cases of dental problems related to Suboxone®, with 131 being severe. They recognize that this number is likely low because not everyone reports their cases to their agency. Many people may not realize their dental problems are due to Suboxone® use, so dentists must be better informed about the possibility.

The FDA reported more findings regarding the people affected by Suboxone® tooth issues:

  • The average age of those affected was 42, with the youngest being 18
  • 28 cases involved using Suboxone® for pain
  • 26 cases involved people with no history of dental problems
  • 113 people had two or more teeth affected
  • Dental problems began between two weeks and two years after starting Suboxone®
  • Most cases involved people using Suboxone® for OUD

Treatments for those with dental problems included tooth extractions, root canals, dental surgeries, crowns, and implants.

A study published in the Journals of the American Medical Association included many more participants than included in the FDA’s reports, with a total of 21,404 people taking sublingual buprenorphine (film strips that dissolve in your mouth), 5,385 transdermal buprenorphine, and 6,616 oral naltrexone. The results show adverse dental problems affect:

  • 6 per 1,000 taking sublingual buprenorphine
  • 2 per 1,000 taking transdermal buprenorphine
  • 9 per 1,000 taking oral naltrexone

Those taking sublingual buprenorphine also had higher incidences of tooth loss and sensitivity issues. Men were found to have higher cases of tooth decay, along with people with co-morbid conditions, such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pain, and secondary substance use disorders.

How Does Suboxone® Cause Tooth Decay?

The sublingual buprenorphine film is acidic, and because a person must hold it under their tongue for 5-10 minutes for complete dissolution, the acids are exposed to teeth and gums for at least that long. People are not always instructed to rinse their mouths with water to flush out the remaining acids. This leads to further exposure of acids to the interior of your mouth. Prolonged exposure increases the risk of tooth decay because acids erode the enamel on teeth. When the enamel erodes, your teeth become more vulnerable to bacteria that can lead to cavities, infections, and mouth diseases. Teeth also weaken and break more easily without the enamel to protect them.

Suboxone® can also cause xerostomia, or dry mouth, which can lead to dental problems. Hundreds of medications, including buprenorphine, have side effects that include dry mouth. Experiencing a dry mouth occasionally is normal. However, having a dry mouth for a long time can lead to health problems, including tooth decay.

Saliva is a protectant for the mouth, and because Suboxone® is acidic and causes a dry mouth, little or no saliva is available to rinse the acids. This means that those taking Suboxone® may miss out on saliva’s important properties and functions, including:

  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-viral
  • Lubrication

  • Wound healing
  • Tooth mineralization
  • Buffer
  • Food digestion

Opioids are known to increase sugar cravings in many people, and sugar is a known contributor to tooth decay. Because Suboxone® is an opioid, some people may find it more difficult to avoid sugary products while taking it. If they do not practice proper oral hygiene, they may experience a heightened risk of tooth decay and other dental problems.

Potential Compensation In The Suboxone® Dental Decay Lawsuit

Factors determining monetary settlements may include how long patients were on Suboxone®, their dental history, and the extent to which the medicine damaged their teeth. There are no guarantees of compensation. It is recommended that you talk with an attorney who can provide more information on the lawsuit.

Most importantly, the lawsuit focuses on people who were never informed of the dangers to dental health while taking Suboxone®. Most attorneys represent people who took Suboxone® before 2022, when the FDA’s warnings were placed on the product and announced nationwide.

You may qualify if you took Suboxone® before 2022 and have since experienced dental decay beyond what is considered a normal decay rate. Also, anyone who has had to pay money for treatment of dental damages may qualify. Extractions, implants, and other dental procedures can cost thousands of dollars, all of which may be repaid through the lawsuit.

Getting Help For Opioid Use Disorder

If you’ve been taking Suboxone® to help treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, this news may be scary to hear. Fortunately, other methods exist to help combat OUDs. Call your doctor to discuss other medication options or contact a treatment provider today to explore your rehab options and continue on the path toward a healthier future.