Buccal administration of medicines

Buccal administration of medication is one of the two ways that medicines can be administered through the oral cavity (mouth). The other one being the sublingual administration. This is different from oral administration of medicine where medication is administered through the mouth and swallowed. In buccal and sublingual administration, the medication is not swallowed. It is placed in the buccal region (in the case of buccal administration) and under the tongue (in the case of sublingual administration). The drug then dissolves and gets absorbed into the blood through the tissues.

What is buccal administration of drugs

Buccal administration of a medicine is when a drug is administered by placing it in the buccal region. The buccal region is the area inside the mouth between the cheek and the teeth and gums.

Buccal medication administration is intended for delivering drugs within or through the buccal mucosa in order to achieve a local or systemic effect.

Dosage forms of medications that use buccal administration

Buccal dosage forms are intended either to act locally (e.g. Orabase paste) or to exert a systemic effect (e.g. prochlorperazine and glyceryl trinitrate buccal tablets and nicotine chewing gum).

Dosage forms include of liquids, sprays, lozenges, dissolvable films, and tablets.

Why would your doctor prescribe you a drug that buccal administration?

You may be prescribed a medicine with buccal route of administration if:

  • You are unable to swallow medication
  • The medication is poorly absorbed in the stomach
  • Digestion would reduce the effect of the drug.
  • The drug needs to get into your bloodstream very quickly.
  • To improve compliance.

The cheek area has under many capillaries, or tiny blood vessels which allows drugs to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream without going through your digestive system and processing by the liver

By bypassing the digestive system and processing by the liver, medicines administered through the buccal route means the drug is still effective at a lower dose with a lower chance of side effects.

One disadvantage of the buccal route is that drinking, eating, and smoking can affect the absorption of the drug.

How is buccal medication administered?

  • Wash hands before and after you touch the drug.
  • Read the label carefully.
  • Ensure the right dose is measured or picked.
  • For liquid forms, use an oral syringe instead of a spoon.
  • If it is a tablet, dissolvable film, and lozenges, remove the medicine from the packaging with dry hands.
  • Some buccal medications are not meant to dissolve, which means you will spit it out after the recommended time elapses.
  • Pull one side of your mouth out so you can see the inside of the cheek and place the drug between your gum and the cheek.
  • Stay still until the medicine is completely absorbed.
buccal administration
A lady pointing to the buccal region.

Some examples of medicines administered through the buccal route

  • Asenapine which is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
  • Buprenorphine naloxone used for treating opioid addiction
  • Fentanyl which is used for pain
  • Nitroglycerin which is used to treat chest pain (angina)
  • Prochlorperazine which is used for treating nausea
  • Testosterone which is used for hormonal replacement
  • Nicotine which is used in helping people stop smoking
  • Midazolam which is used to treat acute epileptic seizures
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