Why Does Suboxone Cause Tooth Decay?

Why Does Suboxone Cause Tooth Decay?

In response to an alarming opioid crisis in the U.S., Suboxone emerged as an effective drug treatment to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce cravings that can lead to relapse. Due to a market exclusivity agreement with the FDA, Suboxone manufacturer Indivior profited from the drug for years without competition. After altering the way Suboxone was administered to maintain this dynamic, it became increasingly clear that Indivior had failed to disclose that prolonged exposure to one of Suboxone’s main active ingredients increased a user’s risk of severe tooth decay.

Indivior’s negligence has created the basis for the current wave of Suboxone product liability lawsuits. At LLN, we understand that suffering from tooth decay can be a financially and emotionally draining experience. Our team of product liability lawyers is heavily involved in seeking compensation for Suboxone plaintiffs to offset their related medical bills, lost wages, and non-economic losses like pain and suffering. We encourage you to schedule a free consultation with one of our capable Suboxone tooth decay attorneys to explore your legal options.

Key Ingredient in Suboxone Creates Conditions That Facilitate Tooth Decay

Suboxone users and healthcare providers have been reporting a range of dental issues after usage of the drug, including decay severe enough to warrant oral surgery. Plaintiffs in the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits argue these injuries may be attributed to the combination of one of the active ingredients, Buprenorphine, and the extended amount of time a Suboxone user’s teeth are exposed to the chemical. 

Suboxone uses Buprenorphine in conjunction with Naloxone, the active ingredient in Narcan, to help patients suffering from opioid use disorder to reduce their dependence. Buprenorphine functions as a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it offers a portion of the pain relief an opioid provides by activating the same enzymes that an opioid would stimulate. While effective in reducing a patient’s chemical dependency on opioids, Buprenorphine also lowers pH levels in the mouth. 

The resulting acidic environment can erode tooth enamel, which is the durable outer layer that protects teeth from deteriorating. There is also scientific evidence that Buprenorphine-based products can substantially lower salivary outputs, leading to dry mouth. Individuals with dry mouth are more vulnerable to tooth decay and infections because saliva helps neutralize the acids that destroy enamel. Despite these risks, Indivior effectively amplified Buprenorphine’s potency with its sublingual film form of Suboxone. 

Sublingual Film Form of Suboxone Causes Tooth Decay

The corrosive effects of Buprenorphine were not as apparent when Suboxone was being sold in its original tablet form, as oral administration limits contact with teeth. Indivior debuted the sublingual film form of Suboxone to replace the pills as its FDA Orphan Drug designation was set to expire, without regard to how a different administration of a Buprenorphine-based drug would negatively impact users’ dental health.

The benefit of a sublingual administration is that it allows the medication to bypass the user’s gastrointestinal tract, so a higher concentration of Suboxone is absorbed into the bloodstream at a faster rate. This also requires Suboxone users to place the strip under their tongue for up to ten minutes until it dissolves. In effect, the Buprenorphine has a much larger window of time to affect the mouth's pH balance and salivary output of the Suboxone user.

While ten minutes a day may not seem like enough time to cause cavities, infections, and tooth loss, keep in mind that individuals recovering from opioid addiction may rely on Suboxone for years, depending on what their doctor recommends. In an effort to maintain its stranglehold on the market for opioid-dependence treatment drugs, Indivior created a product that jeopardizes the dental health of Suboxone users who are already combatting life-threatening health problems.

Suboxone Users File Product Liability Lawsuits Against Manufacturer Indivior 

Suboxone has been available as a treatment for opioid use disorder and addiction for more than twenty years, which in theory provides ample time for side effects like severe tooth decay to be discovered and reported to regulators, as well as the public. Plaintiffs in the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits share this sentiment and accuse drug manufacturer Indivior of failing to warn them of the increased risk of dental injuries like oral infections, cavities, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.

Indivior has manufactured Buprenorphine-based products for decades, first under Reckitt Benckiser’s multibillion-dollar consumer goods empire, and as an independent company since 2014. This adds credibility to the plaintiffs’ argument that Indivior should have known that Buprenorphine was capable of causing dental decay, especially when administered in a form that exacerbated its effects. Their case is also bolstered by the fact that the FDA determined that there was sufficient evidence to add the risk of tooth decay to Suboxone’s warning labels.  

Plaintiffs who qualify for a Suboxone claim still have to demonstrate that a preponderance of the evidence supports that Indivior was negligent in their duty of care by failing to warn the public about the risk of tooth decay. From there, they must prove that Indivior’s negligence resulted in their dental injuries, which caused them to experience financial, physical, and emotional losses. A product liability lawyer is best suited to lead this effort, as they will have access to resources and possess the legal knowledge needed to navigate your Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney About Your Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit

As personal injury attorneys with an established history of negotiating mass tort claims over defective drugs like Tepezza and Tylenol, we are familiar with the demands of the claims process and the level of effort required to maximize compensation. Our team has years of negotiating experience, ample resources, and the client-centered approach that these types of claims require to succeed.

Suboxone users deserved to be informed of the risks of the drug prior to it harming their dental health, but Indivior deprived them of this warning. To our Suboxone tooth decay lawyers, your case is not simply another tragic instance of negligence by a drug manufacturer. We recognize that you have likely endured additional financial expenses, chronic pain, and the psychological consequences of tooth decay, and we are committed to leveraging our expertise to recover the financial relief you deserve.

Our team of qualified product liability attorneys will work tirelessly to negotiate a fair Suboxone settlement that compensates you for damages like medical bills, lost wages, and emotional distress. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers to learn more about the types of legal services we offer, discuss what your claim may be worth, and get informed about your rights.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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