The Dangers of an Oral Piercing

Body piercing is a popular form of self-expression. Getting unique piercings on your tongue, lips, and cheeks may look cool, but it can be dangerous to your health. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, which can often lead to infection and swelling of an oral piercing, as well as other oral health issues.

Dangerous affects caused by an oral piercing:

Infection, pain and swelling

Your mouth is home to various breeding bacteria, an ideal place for an infection to occur. An infection can quickly become life threatening, if not treated promptly. An oral piercing can also cause your tongue to swell, leading to a blocked airway, and even lead to hepatitis or endocarditis.

Damage to gums, teeth and dental fillings

A common habit of playing with the oral piercing can injure your gums and lead to cracked, scratched or sensitive teeth. Having an oral piercing can also cause damage to dental fillings by repeatedly clicking the jewelry against your teeth.

Hypersensitivity to metals

Allergic reactions at the pierced site are also possible. Studies have also shown that an oral piercing can buildup periodontopathogen bacteria. Hypersensitivity is usually caused by oral piercing jewelry made of synthetic materials, rather than steel or titanium which have lower levels of bacterial colonization.

Nerve damage

After a piercing, you may experience a numb tongue that is caused by nerve damage that is usually temporary but can sometimes be permanent. The injured nerve may affect your sense of taste, or how you move your mouth. Damage to your tongue’s blood vessels can cause serious blood loss.

Excessive drooling

Due to the tongue’s vascular nature, prolonged bleeding can result if vessels are punctured during the piercing procedure. Infected, unusual and/or colored discharges from an oral piercing has also been reported. Your tongue piercing can increase saliva production as your body is trying to clean out the bacteria in your mouth caused by infection.

Dental appointment difficulties

The jewelry can get in the way of dental care by blocking part of the X-ray images. If possible, remove oral piercing jewelry before going to the dentist for treatment.

Recommendations for Individuals with oral piercings:

Contact your dentist or physician

If you have any signs of infection—swelling, pain, fever, chills, shaking or a red-streaked appearance around the site of the piercing.

Keep the piercing site clean

The professional piercer should have given you after care instructions on how to properly clean and maintain a healthy oral piercing. One way to avoid bacteria collecting on the jewelry is to use a mouth rinse after every meal.

Avoid putting stress on the oral piercing

Try to avoid clicking the jewelry against teeth. Be gentle and aware of the jewelry’s movement when talking and chewing.

Check the jewelry periodically

Every few days you’ll want to check the tightness of your oral piercing periodically with clean hands. This helps to prevent you from swallowing or choking on the jewelry.

Wear a mouthguard

When playing sports, remove the jewelry and protect your mouth with a mouthguard.

As a matter of the American Dental Association, ADA policy advises against the practices of oral piercing and tongue splitting: “Like oral piercings, [has] overall risks of severe bleeding, pain, infection and nerve damage. The tongue’s anatomic location, high vascularity and proximity to diverse oral microflora and biofilms present significant potential risks for viral infection or transmission of pathogenic organisms.”

The best option is to consider removing mouth jewelry before it causes a problem. Don’t get an oral piercing on a whim. The oral piercing will be an added responsibility to your life, requiring constant attention and upkeep.

Call Advanced DDS, your Garden City Dentist, to schedule an appointment today at (516) 825-1100.

Advanced DDS is proud to serve the surrounding cities: Mineola, Hempstead, West Hempstead, Franklin Square, Uniondale, New Hyde Park, Westbury, Roosevelt, Merrick, Roslyn, Carle Place, Williston Park, Albertson, East Meadow, Garden City Park, Floral Park, and many more.

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