Advocacy Alert: Statement from SAMHSA Leader on FDA’s Drug Safety Alert on Buprenorphine and Risk for Tooth Decay

January 20, 2022


On January 13, 2022, Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), released the following statement in response to recent FDA guidance on how to prevent the use of buprenorphine from leading to tooth decay. Buprenorphine and other opioid agonist medications can reduce the saliva production that is important for optimal oral health.

"SAMHSA urges patients and providers to weigh the lifesaving benefits of buprenorphine with this identified risk in making decisions about starting and ongoing use of buprenorphine."

"SAMHSA supports the FDA's recommendations that simple steps can help reduce the risk of tooth decay in people taking buprenorphine. This includes swishing with water after allowing sublingual and buccal formulations of buprenorphine to completely dissolve and brushing teeth one hour after taking the medication. Other measures can also help maintain healthy teeth and gums, such as twice daily brushing, regular flossing, the regular consumption of water throughout the day, and routine dental checkups."

View the FDA Drug Safety Communication here.

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