While the Risks May Not Bother Others – It Can Happen to You

Why Oral Piercings Are Not a Good Choice

It is very popular today to get a tongue piercing or a similar kind. Young people often do it because their friends did it and they just want to be part of the crowd and popular. Oral piercings, particularly tongue piercing jewelry, in spite of their popularity, can be dangerous. There are a number of risks that can occur anytime mouth piercings are given.

Tongue Piercing Risks

While many people who get oral piercings do not experience any problems, some people do. Sometimes those who do experience problems, find that the problems can be rather severe, and on rare occasion – potentially fatal. Prior to getting an oral piercing, you should be fully informed of the potential risks so that you can make an intelligent decision.

The risks of having a problem are about six percent. It is not as high as the risks that you might face for other piercings: ears (12%), nipples (21%, and navels (24%).

The Potential Problems

  • Tongue infection – The site of the piercing can become infected due to the enormous amount of bacteria normally found in the mouth – more than 500 different kinds. Infection may also occur from handling the jewelry, or from the person doing the piercing. If infection occurs, it could enable infections to spread to your brain - which has happened and it could be fatal.

  • Nerve damage – The nerve in the tongue (if it is a tongue piercing) can be damaged when the piercing takes place. This can result in temporary loss of sensation around the piercing – or it could even be permanent.

  • Swelling – The tongue could become swollen enough to block your airway. This could make it difficult to breathe.  

  • Gum disease – Bacteria in the mouth could get into your gums and cause gum disease. If gum disease is not eliminated, it could cause gum recession, loose teeth, and even loss of teeth.

  • Damaged teeth – If you tend to chew on the piercing, it can lead to chipped teeth. This can also happen while you sleep, chew, or even when you talk. Dental work can also be damaged by it, such as crowns, fillings, or veneers.

  • Gum recession – Studies have shown that tongue piercing can cause the gums behind the front teeth to recede. This occurs because the piercing is often pushed into the front teeth. When gums recede, it can lead to loose teeth and cavities in the tooth roots.

  • Loss of Blood – It is possible that the piercing could damage a blood vessel, leading to excessive bleeding. The tongue has large blood vessels in it. If severed, it may need to be closed surgically – at a hospital.

  • Excessive drooling – After the tongue has been pierced, it could lead to increased production of saliva.

  • Swallowing it – If a piece of jewelry becomes loose in your mouth, there is the possibility that you might swallow it. The stick could become lodged in your throat or lungs. If so, it would have to be removed so that further damage occurs.

  • Scar tissue – Scarring can sometimes become excessive.

  • Nerve damage – It is possible that the piercing could damage the nerve that runs through the tongue. If it is damaged, it can affect your ability to eat, taste food, and even how you talk.

  • Lead to possible hepatitis B or C – If the instruments are not properly cleaned, or the piercer is careless, you could end up with more than one disease. To avoid this possible problem, only go to a professional and recognized clinic.

Warning Against Snake Eyes Piercing

You know that there is a problem when a professional piercer warns against a common type of piercing. The "snake eyes" piercing, while looking cool, is practically guaranteed to cause problems that may include erosion of the gums and chipping or cracking of the teeth.

Avoiding Problems

If you do get a mouth piercing, it is strongly recommended that you follow the general instructions on how to properly care for it to avoid personal harm. Most of the time, it will take between three to four weeks for proper healing to take place. You will also want to avoid eating or drinking hot drinks, salty, spicy, or acidic foods, and avoid kissing – which will put your tongue in contact with someone else's saliva.

A General Warning about Oral Piercings

If you want professional advice about oral piercings, the American Dental Association warns against them. Mouth piercings may cause more trouble than they are worth, and the costs to repair the teeth damaged by piercings are not worth it.

If you have oral piercings, particularly tongue piercing, you want to ensure that you keep possible infection and gum disease under control. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas, can provide treatment for these problems and oral inflammation when needed. For a consultation or dental treatment for better dental health, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.