How Cocaine Use Impacts the Jaw, Mouth, and Teeth
Cocaine use has noticeable side effects, like weight loss, runny nose, increased energy, irritability, and a decreased need for sleep. But cocaine abuse also has lesser-known side effects that impact jaw movement, cause jaw pain and tooth decay, and more.
We explore the effects of cocaine on the jaw and mouth.
What Is Coke Jaw?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that speeds up body functions, leading to side effects like jaw clenching and tooth loss from mouth muscles twitching sporadically.
People with coke jaw movements grind their teeth, erratically moving their mouths from side to side.
If someone has used cocaine for a long time, they can have coke jaw even when they stop using cocaine or are not high.
Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse
In addition to coke jaw, other short-term side effects of cocaine use include:
- Intense euphoria
- Runny nose
- High blood pressure
- Constricted blood vessels
- Mood swings
Long-term effects of cocaine include:
- Deteriorating mental health
- Weight loss
Coke Mouth: Oral Problems From Cocaine Use
Unfortunately, coke jaw is just the beginning of a slew of oral problems that stem from cocaine abuse, including:
Bruxism, a teeth-grinding disorder, is the leading reason people feel jaw pain after snorting cocaine. Someone with bruxism grinds, clenches, or gnashes their teeth while awake or asleep. Many people may grind their teeth without even realizing it.
Still, people with coke jaw experience more severe symptoms from increased abnormal teeth grinding motions, leading to broken teeth, worn-down enamel, and tooth decay.
2. Dry Mouth
Crack cocaine can cause saliva flow to slow down, which leads to dry mouth. Dry mouth may not sound like a severe problem, but long-term oral dryness can lead to:
- Tooth decay
- Bleeding gums
- Gum disease
3. Perforation of the Oral Palate
Snorting cocaine through the nasal cavity causes the blood vessels to constrict. This leads to necrosis— tissue death from too little blood flowing to the tissue.
Unfortunately, necrosis is irreversible. When it happens, the septum’s cells and tissues begin to deteriorate, and perforation of the oral palate begins.
When this happens, the roof of the mouth starts to break down, making it very hard to swallow and eat. It can also impact a person’s ability to speak.
When people ingest cocaine by rubbing it directly on their gums, they have an increased risk of inflammation and periodontal disease.
Periodontal tissue is critical in supporting the teeth and keeping them healthy and alive. With periodontal disease, the gums recede and retract, making the teeth more likely to fall out.
5. Dental Erosion
Dental erosion happens when acids wear away the tooth’s surface and dissolve its enamel and dentine. Cocaine powder is very high in acidity.
When residue is left behind, it eats away at the teeth’s protective coating and tissue.
6. Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)
Several conditions fall under the TMD umbrella. The symptoms of TMD are common among cocaine users because coke jaw causes an uncontrollable amount of jaw movement.
Symptoms of TMD include:
- Limited mouth mobility
- Jaw joint pain
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Tender face muscles
- Face palpitations
How Is Coke Jaw Treated?
Coke jaw is far more severe than a dental problem. It’s a substance abuse problem. If you want to treat your coke jaw and stop the symptoms that come with it, you have to stop using cocaine.
The good news is that stopping cocaine use should cause some of the symptoms of coke mouth to go away on their own.
If more help is needed, dentists can work to restore the mouth and jaw to optimal health with the help of dental bridges, implants, and dentures.
Finding a reputable drug rehab program is the first step to stopping — and reversing — the symptoms of coke jaw. Different treatment options for cocaine addiction treatment are available, including:
- Medical detox: Medical detox plays an integral role in overcoming substance abuse. A medical detox program provides around-the-clock care and support for people detoxing from drugs and alcohol. This gives patients the best chance for recovery, removing them from all triggers and placing them in an environment where they cannot use the drug. Medical detox also uses medications to help counter some of the nastiest withdrawal symptoms.
- Inpatient treatment: During inpatient treatment, patients live at a recovery center for a pre-determined amount of time. This lets them receive the drug-use treatment they need, free from triggers and distractions. They also learn valuable coping skills to increase their odds of staying clean when they re-enter the “real world.”
- Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment allows patients to continue to meet their obligations at work, home, and school while attending treatment in the evenings and on weekends. This form of treatment uses therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help patients break free from the chains of addiction.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
If you’re worried that you or a loved one is addicted to cocaine, here are the signs of cocaine addiction to watch out for:
- Cravings for the drug
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Chronic runny nose
- Sudden weight loss
- Loss of motivation
- Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, and/or school
- Withdrawing from family, friends, and hobbies
- Needing larger amounts of cocaine to achieve the desired effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or cut back
Please get the help you need for cocaine addiction before it’s too late. Read about Zinnia Health’s cocaine treatment programs here.
Zinnia Health Can Help
Our compassionate and skilled addiction specialists at Zinnia Health have broad experience treating even the most severe substance abuse cases.
They are standing by to help you overcome your cocaine addiction.