From Orphaned by Opioids to Dental Issues: The Hidden Struggle

The widespread abuse of fentanyl and opioids has resulted in a shocking number of children being left orphaned. The range of this crisis is severe, with over 3,021,000 children losing a parent to a drug overdose between 2011 and 2021. 

This devastating blow reflects the long-standing addiction crisis in the United States. It highlights the deep impact it has had on an entire generation of children. Although, many people have taken medication-assisted treatments to treat opioid overdose. 

However, many people are facing side effects of the medications themselves. Litigations such as Suboxone Lawsuit, stand as a prime example showing several people facing dental issues after using Suboxone.

Nonetheless, the latter is a problem that can be prevented if taken proper care. This article carries information about fentanyl addiction and how to save yourself from the side effects of its medication.  

Loss of Life

The rate of losing a parent to drug overdose has doubled over the past decade. The average number of children affected has increased from approximately 27 to 63 per million. These figures, published in a study by the esteemed medical journal JAMA Psychiatry, highlight the seriousness of the situation.

The study reveals that the largest number of deaths involved parents of white children. In addition to that, it also indicates that children of American Indian or Alaska Native parents have experienced the highest rates of loss.

Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), expressed the need for a deep study of the situation. This is required to understand the situation of orphaned children and those who have lost at least one parent to overdose. 

What Can Be Done?

Strategies for harm reduction and the availability of overdose-reversal medication like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) have been expanded nationwide. Alongside this, the study also highlights the lack of focus on parents within these initiatives.

There is a need to emphasize peer-to-peer parenting training, which is often ignored in drug treatment programs. The study also underscored the urgent need to treat addiction and suggest strategies that will help prevent individuals from drug overdose.

As per the study, overdose in the parents was the highest among the families of Natives of Alaska or American Indians. With 187.1 deaths per million in 2021, it was more than double the rate of white parents. Black parents had an overdose rate of 73.2 deaths per million.

Recovering from opioid addiction includes not only focusing on the addiction itself but also prioritizing overall health. However, it is upsetting to say that the medication supporting the recovery may have dangerous effects on your dental health.

Bye to Overdose, Hello to Dental Problems

Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is normally dissolved under the tongue or against the cheek. This method allows buprenorphine to be efficiently absorbed through the mouth’s membranes.

Naloxone, on the other hand, is included to prevent misuse and has no effect when taken as prescribed. However, in January 2022, the FDA issued a statement warning about possible dental issues related to the oral dissolution of these medications. 

According to the TorHoerman Law, these issues may include cavities, oral infections, tooth decay, and tooth loss. There is a constant risk that Suboxone and other medications could lead to dental problems. This ultimately causes concern among individuals undergoing medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

Currently, there are ongoing lawsuits against the manufacturer of Suboxone, Indivior. These lawsuits are filed on the basis that the company failed to warn doctors and patients about the dental damage caused by Suboxone. 

Most medications carry some degree of risk for side effects. However, it is rightfully important for individuals to be informed about overall dangers to make wise decisions about their health. As of now, these lawsuits are still pending.

The Possible Solutions

To reduce the harm caused to teeth by Suboxone, there are some measures suggested by WorkitHealth:

  • After the tablet or film is fully dissolved, rinse your mouth out gently with water and swallow. 
  • Once the drug has fully dissolved, wait at least an hour before cleaning your teeth. Be gentle and use a brush with soft bristles when brushing.
  • Brush and floss as usual, but make sure to do so after the hour has passed since taking your medication.
  • As soon as you begin treatment, tell your dentist that you are using Suboxone.
  • Preferably every six months, schedule and attend routine dental cleanings and examinations. It is very important for people who may have neglected their oral hygiene while battling an opioid use disorder. 
  • Inform your dentist and healthcare provider of any dental problems or concerns as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is fentanyl?

Strong synthetic opioid painkiller fentanyl is comparable to morphine in strength but far more effective. It is usually recommended to treat extreme pain, like that which cancer patients endure.

How does fentanyl addiction occur?

Fentanyl addiction can occur when individuals misuse or abuse the drug. This can include using fentanyl without a prescription, taking higher doses than prescribed, or using it in a manner other than directed (e.g., crushing and snorting or injecting it).

What are the dangers of fentanyl addiction?

Fentanyl addiction poses significant risks to an individual’s health and well-being. Due to its potency, fentanyl overdose is a major concern. The drug can depress the central nervous system, leading to respiratory distress and, in severe cases, respiratory failure. 

How is fentanyl addiction treated?

The first step is often medical detoxification, where the individual is safely weaned off fentanyl under medical supervision. Following detoxification, behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or contingency management, can help address the underlying causes of addiction and develop coping mechanisms. 

Understanding the dangerous impact of Suboxone on dental health is important for individuals undergoing MAT for opioid use disorder. By following the FDA’s suggestions, the risks associated with Suboxone can be minimized. 

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