Oral piercing such as piercing the lip, cheek or tongue continues to be an appealing form of self-expression for certain individuals. While the practice of oral piercings is not new, that does not guarantee that having it done is always safe. Oral piercings have several health related risks and can affect the health of a person’s teeth and gums without proper care.
Increased risk of gum disease
Anyone with oral piercing has an increased risk of gum disease, but it’s especially bad for those with long-stem tongue jewelry. When the jewelry contacts gum tissue and causes injury, that gum tissue may recede and lead to loose teeth and eventual tooth loss.
When mouth jewelry contacts teeth, it can cause cracks or chips that require dental attention to repair. A dental journal report showed that almost half of people who wore long-stem tongue jewelry for four years or more suffered, at least, one chipped tooth.
Oral function difficulty
Tongue piercings stimulate the development of excessive saliva production, and this can lead to drooling. Tongue piercings can also interfere with normal chewing, food swallowing, taste buds and clear speech.
Risk of infections and diseases
Having oral piercing performed increases the risk of infections for several reasons. The piercing creates a wound in the mouth, which is an area already full of bacteria and the jewelry introduces new bacteria. These factors work together to increase the potential for infection. There’s also an increased risk for transmission of diseases including hepatitis B and C and herpes simplex.
Potential development of heart problems
The wound created from an oral piercing can increase the chances of bacteria entering the bloodstream. These bacteria in the bloodstream can result in the development of an inflammation of the heart valves, called endocarditis, in people with underlying/undiagnosed heart issues.
Bleeding and nerve damage
Sometimes nerve damage occurs during piercing, and this causes loss of sensation or numbness as the piercing site and potential movement problems for pierced tongues. Prolonged bleeding can occur if the piercing punctures blood vessels and sometimes tongues swell so severely from piercing that they can block the airway and cause difficulty breathing.
Allergic contact dermatitis is a hypersensitive reaction to the metal of oral piercings, and this can lead to health complications.
Risk of swallowing jewelry
If the jewelry of the oral piercing becomes loose, the person can potentially choke on it or swallow it and damage the lungs or digestive tract.
Undergoing an oral piercing is a personal choice, but it’s important to understand all of the potential short and long-term risks before proceeding. Help protect your mouth by maintaining regular dental exams with Creative Dental.