Coke Mouth: Effects Of Cocaine On The Gums And Teeth

Cocaine use is an illicit drug that can have many harmful side effects. Specifically, cocaine can affect your oral health. Treatment for cocaine use varies but can include detox and medication-assisted treatment.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


Cocaine is a dangerous, illegal, and addictive drug that is popular for its pleasant and stimulating effects. However, it is also very hazardous to your health.

The substance and the chemicals it’s cut with can damage many systems in your body, including several internal organs.

Additionally, an often overlooked physical effect of cocaine use is the damage it can cause to your gums and teeth, known as coke mouth.

What Is Coke Mouth?

Coke mouth is a slang term used to refer to the damage of the gums and teeth and dental decay cocaine can cause. This can include everything from lesions and perforations to tooth erosion.

Effects Of Cocaine Use On The Gums

There are a variety of methods of use when it comes to cocaine including injecting, snorting, smoking, and oral use. Each of these methods can have different effects on the body.

When it comes to the gums, effects can be amplified by the frequency and length of cocaine abuse.


One way cocaine use can affect your gums is by causing an infection called periodontitis. Periodontitis is also known as gum disease.

Gum disease occurs when the tissue of the gums is damaged and can lead to tooth loss and more serious health concerns that affect your cardiovascular system and respiratory system.

Periodontitis is often associated with smoking, so smoking cocaine can certainly lead to it. Oral cocaine use can also cause this problem as both methods of use expose the gums to dangerous chemicals.

Decreased Saliva Flow

Another effect on the gums from cocaine use is decreased saliva flow. This effect is most common in people who use crack cocaine.

Though decreased saliva flow is a pretty straightforward condition in which the production of saliva is decreased, it can also cause long-term problems.

Precisely, dry mouth due to decreased saliva flow can lead to discomfort, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, and most seriously, tooth decay.

Effects Of Cocaine Use On The Teeth

Going hand-in-hand with the effects of cocaine on your gums, cocaine abuse can also affect your dental health.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism, or involuntary teeth grinding, is a condition that can be caused by a number of factors including sleep or stress, but it is also associated with drug use.

Teeth grinding is detrimental to the health of your teeth because it breaks down the protective cover of the tooth, the enamel. In turn, your teeth can be damaged and even start to decay.

Dental Erosion

There are a number of ways cocaine use can lead to dental erosion.

In addition to interfering with the function of the gums and tooth enamel, cocaine can cause dental erosion directly.

This is because cocaine becomes quite acidic when it mixes with your saliva, so it breaks down the enamel and damages your teeth.

Think of the effects of lemon on your teeth, but multiplied greatly.

Coke Jaw

Another way cocaine use can affect the teeth and surrounding oral bones is through a condition commonly known as coke jaw.

Coke jaw is a slang term that refers to the way people who use cocaine move their jaws in an unusual manner.

The movement is erratic and looks uncontrollable. Cocaine causes this side effect because it has stimulant effects and causes hyperactivity.

Coke jaw is often an easy way for people to identify that someone is abusing cocaine.

Oral Palate Perforation From Cocaine Abuse

One of the most disturbing ways cocaine use can affect your mouth is oral palate perforation. In your mouth, there are two palates, the hard palate and the soft palate.

The hard palate is located right behind your top front teeth and is hard to the touch. The soft palate is located right behind the hard palate, close to your throat.

When abusing cocaine, it is possible to develop lesions in these areas that can ultimately lead to perforation, which is essentially a hole.

As you can imagine, it’s incredibly dangerous to have a hole located in these areas of your body and it can lead to multiple health problems.

How Coke Mouth Is Treated

Luckily, many of the problems associated with coke mouth can be resolved by stopping the use of cocaine and focusing on dental hygiene.

Quitting use of cocaine can be difficult and may require professional help and the use of therapies like contingency management.

For tooth decay, dental treatment is often required to repair these issues.

On the other hand, oral palate perforation is one of the side effects of cocaine use that will not resolve once you stop using the substance.

Depending on the severity of the perforation, surgery can sometimes repair the hole, but it’s important to note the tissue will never be the same as it was before.

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a serious medical condition that has countless effects on your health.

That being said, it’s vital for you or someone you know to get the help they need for cocaine use.

Located in Massachusetts, Bedrock Recovery Center is a highly rated treatment facility built to help people recover from all kinds of substance abuse.

Treatment for cocaine addiction may include:

  • detoxification
  • medication-assisted treatment to help cope with withdrawal symptoms
  • inpatient cocaine programs
  • outpatient cocaine programs

Treatment at Bedrock can also include support from therapy, peers going through similar addictions, and education.

Find A Drug Rehab Program For Cocaine Abuse

If you or a loved one are losing your independence to cocaine addiction, take the first step and call Bedrock Recovery Center today, where you’ll find comprehensive treatment options.

  1. Better Health Channel
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed,users%20(p%20%3C%200.012)
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed,users%20(p%20%3C%200.012)
  4. Mayo Clinic,bone%20that%20supports%20your%20teeth

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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