Suboxone has been known to cause issues with tooth decay. The acidity in Suboxone can cause a range of unpleasant side effects in the mouth, one of which is tooth decay.
Many dentists have noted that of their patients who start using Suboxone, most of them complain of new dental issues. Most of these issues are mild, while some are more serious.
What Causes Tooth Decay With Suboxone?
The most common factor that produces acids in the mouth is the activity of bacteria in the mouth. Tooth decay and cavities develop when teeth are exposed to an acidic environment.
Suboxone has a low pH of 3.4, meaning it’s very acidic.
Suboxone strips are designed to be placed under the tongue or in the cheek and held in place until fully dissolved for about five to 10 minutes.
Holding the medicine in the mouth and allowing it to sit on the teeth for up to 10 minutes every day leads to greater contact between the teeth and Suboxone.
And for many patients, up to three doses of Suboxone may be administered every day, which continues to increase the exposure of teeth to the acidic substance.
How Suboxone Effects Teeth And Mouth
Dentists most often find decay along the gumline. And this acidity can affect the mouth in a number of different ways, not just tooth decay.
The acidity in Suboxone makes the mouth a perfect habitat for multiple, unwanted issues.
A few of these include:
- tooth decay
- dry mouth
- chalky plaque buildup on the teeth
- gum disease
- dental fillings
- cracked teeth
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How Common Is Tooth Decay From Suboxone?
A 2013 study assessed the connection between sublingual buprenorphine and dental problems.
The patients in the case study had been taking Suboxone for nearly four years, took the medication three times a day, and held it in the mouth, on average, nine minutes.
The majority of the participants complained of toothaches and tooth decay. And other studies have revealed similar findings, making Suboxone a common culprit of tooth decay.
However, the results are still unclear, because many of the participants also smoked, regularly drank soda, used other medications that negatively impact dental health, and more.
While Suboxone has been linked to dental issues, it’s difficult to know whether it is inevitable. Many of those who use Suboxone also do other things to negatively impact their teeth.
Tips To Prevent Tooth Decay From Suboxone
There are many ways to protect dental and oral health while using Suboxone. The possible effects on teeth should not be a reason to stop using Suboxone, and there are ways to prevent oral and dental damage.
Take Suboxone Doses All At Once
If more than one dose of Suboxone is needed, try to take them all at one time. As long as your prescribing doctor has approved it, Suboxone can usually be taken at the same time.
This will limit the number of times the teeth and mouth are being exposed to the acidity in Suboxone, decreasing the chances of tooth decay and other issues.
Here’s how to take multiple Suboxone pills together:
- If two pills are needed, place them both under the tongue on opposite sides and avoid overlap as much as possible.
- If three pills are needed, you may place all three under the tongue and avoid overlap as much as possible.
- If this is uncomfortable, allow the first two to dissolve completely, then place the third one under the tongue and let that dissolve.
Here’s how to take multiple Suboxone strips together:
- If two strips are needed, place one strip on the inside of each cheek. Allow the medication to fully dissolve.
- If a third strip is needed, do not place three in the mouth at once. Allow the first two to dissolve, and then place the final strip in one of the cheeks and let that dissolve.
Brush Your Teeth After Using Suboxone
In order to prevent tooth decay, brush your teeth after the Suboxone has completely dissolved. Do not brush your teeth or use mouthwash while the Suboxone is still dissolving.
Choose a fluoride toothpaste and brush after eating and drinking. Ideally, brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal. If this isn’t possible, brush at least twice a day.
Have Regular Dentist Visits
Because Suboxone is known to produce negative effects on the teeth, it’s very important to maintain regular dental care.
For those who don’t often go to the dentist and are starting on Suboxone, go ahead and schedule a dentist visit.
Speak with your dentist about the frequency of visits you might want to maintain, and keep a regularly scheduled appointment.
Lifestyle Adjustments To Prevent Tooth Decay
There are a few ways a person using Suboxone can adjust their daily routines and habits to encourage better dental health while on Suboxone.
A few suggestions are:
- Avoid frequent snacking and drinking. Eating foods and drinks (other than water) constantly is going to encourage the bacteria in the mouth to create more acids that destroy tooth enamel.
- Eat foods that are good for your teeth. Some of these include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, cheese, yogurt, and fish.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash. This will help to kill the harmful bacteria in the mouth that leads to tooth decay.
Get Suboxone Treatment For Opioid Addiction
Suboxone is one of the most effective treatment measures for opioid use disorder. If you or someone you love want to stop using opioids, Suboxone treatment might be right for you.
Call our helpline and get connected with a representative who can talk you through your options in addiction recovery.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Burlington Free Press—How the opioid epidemic affects dental health – and what dentists are doing to help
- National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)—Sublingual Buprenorphine and Dental Problems: A Case Series
- University of Illinois Chicago—The Best Foods For A Healthy Smile and Whole Body