Tongue piercing, cheek piercing, lip piercing… Oh my! Many people see oral piercing as an awesome form of body art and self expression, however, the medical community views it as a dangerous practice that can cause many problems with your health. But, it looks cool! Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. From where this writer is sitting, the view is of a moist, bacteria filled environment that has been compromised by jewelry – an ideal environment for infection!
There are several potential complications of oral piercing.
- Pain and swelling (in some cases the tongue can swell large enough to block the airway).
- Excessive drooling – not cool!
- Nerve damage which can lead to loss of taste or a numb tongue
- Injury to the gums
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Infection at the piercing site or infection to heart tissue due to bacteria entering the bloodstream and traveling to the heart.
- Receding gums due to jewelry rubbing against the gum tissue. Receding gums can cause extreme teeth sensitivity to hot, cold or spicy foods.
- Serious blood loss if there is damage to the tongue’s blood vessels.
If you are still interested in an oral piercing, please discuss the procedure with your dentist or medical professional. You will also need to take special care of the piercing to avoid future problems at the piercing site.
- After the piercing site heals, you should remove your jewelry each time you eat or sleep to protect your teeth. Many piercing parlors provide “plugs” to sleep in to protect the hole from closing while protecting your teeth at the same time.
- Remove your jewelry every time you brush your teeth and always brush your tongue. Brushing and flossing are extra important when you have oral piercings to help control the breeding bacteria in your mouth and lower your chances for infection.
- Use and antiseptic mouthwash after every meal.
- Remove jewelry during any strenuous activity to avoid injury to your teeth.