Oral Piercings and Dental Health

Inform Yourself of the Risks

Don’t pierce on a whim.” — The American Dental Association

Body piercings, including the lips and tongue, are more mainstream in today’s society. If you or someone you care about is considering an oral piercing, is there anything you should consider? Yes, there are specific risks that our Yuba City dentists want you to be aware of.

Can an oral piercing damage your teeth, gums or tongue?

An oral piercing certainly won’t improve your health. They introduce and harbor millions of bacteria that cause infection and decay. Deep places to hide within the tissues are what bacteria seek and oral piercings help them find just that! Tongue and oral piercings may cause extreme swelling, and it’s very common to crack a tooth by biting down on a piercing while eating or talking. Fidgeting with your piercing by licking or dragging it against your teeth leads to irreparable damage to your enamel. And almost every piercing causes gum recession in the tooth or teeth that are directly across from it. This leads to decay or tooth loss in very short order.

What does the ADA say about oral piercings?

Please note the warnings and consequences regarding oral piercings issued by the American Dental Association (ADA):

  • Oral piercings give access to the circulatory system for bacteria. Infections can quickly become life threatening if not treated promptly. A swelling tongue has been known to block airways, leading to threat of death.
  • Piercings may dislodge fillings or damage restorations, requiring extra dental work and expense.
  • Allergic reactions at the pierced site are possible.
  • If a piercing hits a nerve, you may experience lasting numbness. Speech and the ability to eat and drink well may be affected.
  • Serious blood loss, in the case of tongue piercings.
  • Tongue piercings can also lead to excessive drooling.

As a result of these warnings, the ADA does not endorse oral piercing, and additionally says this: “…the best option is to consider removing mouth jewelry before it causes a problem. Don’t pierce on a whim. The piercing will be an added responsibility to your life, requiring constant attention and upkeep.”

If You Already Have a Piercing

The ADA advises the following if you already have oral piercings of the cheek, lip or tongue:

  • Contact your dentist or physician right away if you have swelling, pain, fever, chills, shaking or a red-streaked appearance around the site of the piercing.
  • Keep the piercing area clean and free of any food that may collect on the jewelry by using a mouth rinse after eating.
  • Do not click or drag the piercing against your teeth. Be gentle and aware of the piercing’s movement when talking and chewing.
  • Check the tightness of your piercing periodically with clean hands. This can prevent you from swallowing or choking if it becomes loose.
  • Remove the piercing before playing sports and protect your mouth with a mouthguard.
  • See your dentist regularly, and continue to brush twice a day and floss daily.

At the Yuba City Dentistry Group, we just want what’s best for your teeth! While we might not endorse your choice of body art, we recognize that it’s your decision and we respect it. Nevertheless, since there are health risks from oral piercings, we feel obligated to inform you about them.

Feel free to contact our Yuba City dentists with any questions regarding oral piercings.

May 25, 2017 | Oral Health


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