Person looking out a window, wondering, "What is cocaine jaw?"

What Is Cocaine Jaw?

Cocaine use is associated with many of the same symptoms as other types of drug addiction, like mood swings, social isolation, and changes in appetite and sleep quality. But there is a lesser-known side effect called cocaine jaw or coke jaw. What is cocaine jaw, and how do you know if you have it? Understanding how cocaine can affect your oral health will help you recognize when it is time to seek professional help from a trusted addiction treatment center and your dentist. 

If cocaine dependence interferes with your well-being, you can count on the compassionate team at Promises Brazos Valley. Contact us at 979.426.0086 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you overcome cocaine dependence and prevent further damage to your overall health. 

What Is Cocaine Jaw? 

Cocaine or coke jaw is a condition characterized by involuntary grinding, clenching, or gnashing of the teeth caused by cocaine use. This excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can lead to various issues, such as dental problems, facial muscle tension, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. 

How does cocaine use cause teeth and jaw issues? The primary factor is cocaine’s potent stimulant effects involving the release and inhibited reuptake of brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. This results in excessive muscle tension and hyperactivity in the jaw, leading to the telltale clenching and grinding. 

What Are the Symptoms of Coke Jaw? 

The symptoms of coke jaw resemble those of a condition known as bruxism or teeth grinding. 

Teeth Clenching and Grinding 

This action can damage tooth enamel, leading to increased sensitivity, cracks, or worn-down surfaces that may require the repair of costly dental fillings, crowns, and implants. 

Jaw Pain or Soreness 

You may notice persistent jaw pain and muscle tension worsened by chewing or talking. 

Jaw Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion 

Excessive muscle tension can make it difficult to open your mouth entirely. 


In some cases, referred pain from the jaw joint can lead to tinnitus or ringing in the ears. 

A person can struggle with bruxism even if they do not use cocaine, so scheduling an appointment with a dentist for an evaluation and proper treatment is essential. If you or someone you love experiences symptoms of bruxism and correlation with cocaine use, you should also seek treatment for cocaine addiction. 

Is Cocaine Jaw Treatable? 

Fortunately, cocaine jaw is a treatable condition. Some potential treatment options include: 

  • Oral appliances – Your dentist can order a customized night guard or mouth guard to prevent your teeth from making contact when clenching and grinding. This does not stop you from grinding but helps to prevent further wear and tear. 
  • Relaxation techniques – You can help relieve jaw tension by applying heat to the affected area, doing specific jaw exercises, and meditating to relieve stress. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – Counseling can help you overcome cocaine addiction and relieve jaw tension by addressing the contributors to substance use.  
  • Cocaine addiction treatment – The sooner you can quit cocaine, the sooner you will start to experience relief from jaw pain and tension. 

Although the discomfort of cocaine jaw can be minimized through dental treatment and mental and physical relaxation practices, it is crucial to address the underlying cause—cocaine use. Otherwise, it will be challenging to mitigate coke jaw symptoms long term.  

Heal from the Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction at Promises Brazos Valley 

What is cocaine jaw? Coke jaw is just one of many side effects of cocaine use. If you or someone in your life is struggling to stop using cocaine, reach out to the professionals at Promises Brazos Valley. Our residential and outpatient addiction treatment programs offer varying levels of structure and support, so you are sure to find a treatment option to meet your needs. Contact us today at 979.426.0086 or reach out online to schedule an intake assessment and start finding relief from coke jaw and other addiction symptoms. 

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