Mouth Piercing Complications
If you’re considering a lip or tongue piercing, or have a child who is, you probably want to get all the facts before you make a decision. You’ll hear plenty of opinions from well-meaning people who want you to decide one way or the other, but we’ve compiled some real evidence to help you as you evaluate whether an oral piercing is the right choice for you.
Mouth piercings carry some risks. Here are the things you need to know:
Risk of infection
Any piercing carries a risk of infection, but mouth piercings are particularly risky because of the prevalence of bacteria in the mouth. Although the tissue in your mouth heals quickly under natural circumstances, introducing a foreign object will slow healing, and you should take care to prevent infection as your piercing heals. Avoid alcohol, sticky, and spicy foods while your piercing heals. Don’t use tobacco products, and add a frequent rinse of antibacterial mouthwash to your daily oral hygiene regiment. Rinsing with salt water warmed to approximately body temperature will help as well, and will also help to relieve some swelling and discomfort. If at any time your new piercing produces colored discharge or darkening in skin tone, or if you develop a low-grade persistent fever, you may have an infection. Contact a healthcare professional right away.
As with any piercing, the procedure carries some risk of disease transmission. As you’re choosing a piercing studio, look for sterilization standards, including hospital-grade autoclaves and disposable gloves. Ask whether the staff members have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B, and ask whether needles and piercing hardware are kept in sterilized packaging.
After several years of observation and study, the dental community has definitively established that gum disease is statistically more prevalent in people with oral piercings. Barbell piercings in the tongue are particularly notorious for causing this problem, as contact with the gums over time causes injury and gum recession. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
Contact with foreign objects will cause teeth to crack, and oral piercings are a leading culprit of cracked and chipped teeth. Several long-term studies have confirmed that metal piercings lead to a significantly higher rate of chipped teeth in dental patients.
Less common risks include aspiration (of loose or damaged jewelry), nerve damage, and allergic reaction.
If you already have an oral piercing, follow the guidelines below to reduce the risk of infections.
- Don’t manipulate the piercing. Don’t play with it with your tongue, bite it with your teeth, or otherwise move it around in your mouth. Those manipulations, which quickly become habitual, are responsible for much of the risk and damage associated with oral piercings.
- Regularly visit a dentist to prevent long-term damage related to your piercing. Although everyone needs clean teeth and healthy gums, people with oral piercings should be particularly careful to maintain a strict schedule of dental visits. Your dentist can check to ensure your piercing hasn’t caused any damage to your teeth or diagnose early signs of gum disease.
Tribeca Dental Care
When making an important decision, it’s important to know the facts, especially as they relate to your health and safety. Be as informed as possible when deciding whether to obtain an oral piercing. If you do get one, be sure to follow the care instructions of the piercing studio.
If you’d like to speak with us about oral piercings, or would like to schedule a visit to discuss options or have an existing piercing examined by a dentist, please contact us to schedule an appointment.