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Oral Piercing Risks

Are you considering a tongue or lip piercing? Are you aware of oral piercing risks? Oral Piercings of the lip and tongue can be a symbol of self expression with young adults. While it may be the ‘trend’ or ‘cool’,  tongue and other oral piercing can affect your teeth and gums. Before getting a piercing, be sure that you are aware of oral piercing risks and complications and visit your dentist for advice.

Potential complications include:

oral piercing risks

Photo courtesy of ADA

1. Excessive bleeding at the site if blood vessels are cut

during the procedure

2. Swelling, which can affect speech and the ability to eat and swallow. Oral hygiene can also be affected. In extreme cases, the airways can be blocked and can be life-threatening.

3. Permanent nerve damage can result in semi or permanent loss of feeling in the tongue and/or face.

4. Injury to teeth and gums can occur, most commonly chipped teeth and recession.

Chipped or cracked teeth are common due to habits of playing with the piercing between or against the teeth and commonly affects the front teeth. This may require a filling or if the break large enough, more expensive dental treatment such as onlays and crowns to fix.

Gum recession, where the gum shrinks back to expose the sensitive root surface of the teeth. This can lead to sensitivity, poor aesthetics and in extreme cases, result in tooth mobility and even tooth loss. We have seen cases where gum tissue grafts have been needed with specialist to correct damage from tongue piercings.

If you already have an oral piercing there are some things you can do to minimise the risk of tooth and gum damage.

1. Visit your dentist/hygienist every six months to assess and monitor any damage to teeth and gums

2. Where possible, use plastic backing on your piercing. While they can still cause damage, they are not as abrasive.

3. Avoid playing with your piercing- avoid placing it between the teeth or hitting it against the teeth to minimise chips and cracks in the teeth.

4. Maintain good oral hygiene- brush twice daily and floss daily. If you can- particularly with tongue piercings- take the piercing out now and then to remove plaque that can build-up up on the piercing.

5. Ideally, think about removal of the piercing. While you can minimise the risks, while the piercing is in it can cause irreversible damage.

Remember: an oral piercing is like the latest fashion, hot minute, then not the next! Your teeth and gums will serve you, with good oral hygiene and care into old age. Is an oral piercing really worth the risk of short term fame for long term pain for your teeth and gums? If you would like more information on the affects of oral piercings, contact our friendly staff at Dentalspa Geelong on (03) 5223 1555.


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