What are the risks to teeth with oral piercings?
THERE ARE MANY FORMS of self-expression, art, writing, fashion, even body piercing. When it comes to oral piercings, however–such as lip, cheek, and tongue piercings–it’s important to know all the risks involved.
Know The Risks Before You Pierce
Piercing anywhere near the mouth is very different than simply piercing an earlobe. The oral cavity is home to an abundance of bacteria as well as an intricate system of nerves and blood vessels. Because of this, there are a number of health-related risks associated with oral piercings. Some of these include:
Bacterial infection. The mouth hosts vast amounts of bacteria and is thus easily infected. If the piercing is not done with sterile tools or if the wound is not properly taken care of, bacterial infections can develop. If a home piercing is done with tools that have been used on other people there is a possibility of passing herpes, which is the virus that causes cold sores. Once you have this it is there for the rest of your life, not just until the piercing is removed.
Damage to teeth and gums. Contact between teeth and jewelry leads to tooth enamel erosion and oftentimes cracked or chipped teeth. Irreversible gum recession is also a common side effect of oral piercings, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and even tooth loss. “I have never seen a tongue ring without a chipped tooth from it! Never not even once.” says Dr. Mark McOmie.
Difficulty with speech, swallowing, chewing, and tasting. Oral piercings can cause an increase in saliva production, sometimes making speech difficult. Tongue piercings have been known to swell, too, potentially hindering normal function and blocking the airway. Oral piercings have also been known to alter taste.
Allergic reaction. Allergic reactions to the metal in the jewelry are possible, especially if the surgical-grade stainless steel isn’t used. Up to 80% of people have some form of metal allergy. Piercing’s jewelry should be made of surgical stainless steel or a high noble metal such as gold.
Nerve damage or prolonged bleeding. This mostly occurs with tongue piercings. Because the tongue is a muscle, it contains a lot of nerves and blood vessels, including arteries. Movement problems or numbness and loss of sensation at the site of the piercing can occur if nerves are damaged. If a blood vessel is punctured, bleeding can be severe and hard to control.
Gum disease. Oral piercings put the wearer at greater risk for periodontal, or gum disease. Gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss, and some studies have associated gum disease with other health conditions like diabetes and stroke.
If You Choose Oral Piercings, Do It The Right Way
After understanding the risks, if you still decide to get an oral piercing make sure the procedure is performed by a trained professional who uses sterile instruments. Use a reputable parlor to do the piercing and make sure and take care of it afterward. Consult with Dr. McOmie before getting an oral piercing to learn proper aftercare and maintenance that will help you reduce your risk of infection or complication. If you want to do an oral piercing we can help you keep it from getting infected by prescribing a mouthwash specially formulated to prevent oral infections.
Your health matters to us. If you have any questions concerning this post or an existing oral piercing, call us today. McOmie Family Dentistry 423-899-1112. We’re always happy to hear from our awesome patients!