Posted on 07/07/2020 · Posted in Health Information from Affiliated Dentists, Information

Are oral piercings safe? Because my teenager wants a tongue ring! Help!

Madison mom or dad, we have your back! If the thought of your child getting a tongue, lip ring or cheek piercing gives you pause, you’re in good company. Dentists don’t like these piercings either. Lip, tongue, and cheek rings can cause serious temporary and even permanent side effects. Let’s take a look at some of the risks associated with this kind of self-expression and how you can talk to your teen about these issues.

  • Chipped Teeth
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Gum disease and blood-borne diseases

Chipped Teeth from Oral Piercings

As a parent, you’re probably well aware that teeth are not indestructible. They can get broken or chipped from falls, getting a hockey puck to the face, or even from hard, crunchy foods.

It’s no surprise that individuals with tongue or lip piercings are far more likely to have cracked or chipped teeth. Constant contact with the metal from the piercings makes the teeth vulnerable to damage. Piercings can also damage fillings.

While chipped teeth can be repaired, we as dentists would rather not increase the chances of chipping precious teeth with a metal piece in the body.

Infection from Piercings

Another risk associated with oral piercings is infection. The mouth’s moist environment makes it susceptible to infection. Piercings allow bacteria from the mouth to more easily enter the bloodstream.

Furthermore, the infection is not limited to the mouth and gums. Bacteria can be carried throughout the body. Oral piercings put the individual at risk of endocarditis. This is a condition where bacteria from the mouth travels to and infects the heart valves. People with heart conditions are particularly at risk for endocarditis. Left untreated, endocarditis is fatal.

For further reading: “Dangers of Oral Piercings” by the Wisconsin Dental Association

Nerve Damage

Another risk of oral piercing is nerve damage. During tongue piercing, a nerve can be punctured. This results in a numb tongue. This numbness can be temporary, but sometimes it’s permanent. People have also experienced life-threatening swelling from a tongue piercing.

Gum Disease and Blood-Borne Diseases

Metal jewelry can also cause damage to gum tissue, causing the gums to recede. This condition is both unattractive and dangerous, as it leaves the teeth’s roots exposed. Receding gums make the person most susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.

The National Institutes of Health have also identified oral piercings as a risk factor in the transmission of several strains of hepatitis.

Let Us Be the Bad Guy

What’s worse is, we could go on! These are only some of the risks associated with oral piercings. Drooling, problems with chewing, speaking, and swallowing, and hypersensitivity to metals are other possible side effects. These small lip and tongue piercings might be more trouble than meets the eye.

If you need help talking to your teen about oral piercings, we’d be happy to help. Hearing about the risks involved from a professional might make your teen more willing to listen.

To schedule your appointment, please contact us today. Affiliated Dentists offers general dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.




Are Oral Piercings Safe? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson