Oral piercings or tongue, cheek and lip piercings have become common in recent years, especially with the younger generation. Like tattoos, decorating ones’ face with these piercings is considered an art and a kind of self-expression.
While an oral piercing might give a unique and cool look, there are however, potential risks to them. Before jumping onto this bandwagon, make sure you understand what these risks are and the impact they might have on your oral health.
Any piercing is considered a wound. Since your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria due to its moist environment and the food you are ingesting, there is a greater chance of having an infection start from the piercing.
Infections are painful and can be serious and even life-threatening when not treated properly. If an infection occurs, the tongue swells and this could cause problems for breathing. A swollen tongue can restrict or even block the airways making it difficult if not impossible to breath.
According to Liran Levin, head of the periodontology division at the University of Alberta’s School of Dentistry people sporting oral piercings are at risk of acquiring gum diseases and damaged gums. This results from the piercing brushing up against your delicate gums. The abrasion can lead to damages to the gum tissues which can lead to recessed gum tissues and even tooth and bone loss.
Accidentally biting on the jewelry can lead to damaged tooth enamel. Continual contact with your teeth and the metal jewelry can weaken tooth structure and cause by micro cracks. These cracks can easily succumb to damages, especially when getting into contact with hard objects like jewelry in your mouth. In fact, according to dental journals, roughly 47% of people wearing oral piercings for four years or more report having chipped tooth.
Nerve damage is a potential risk if the piercer does not place the piercing in the right place. Permanent nerve damage could result with symptoms being:
- Loss of taste
- Restricted movement which will impair the speech
Transmission of Serious Diseases
Diseases such as herpes, hepatitis B and hepatitis C can all be easily transmitted by oral piercings. A licensed professional performing the piercing should be diligent with sterilizing their equipment to help prevent this risk.
An oral piercing also puts yourself at risk of endocarditis which is an infection of the heart valves or lining of the heart. This is caused by the transmission of bacteria from the oral wound to the valves of the heart via the bloodstream.
Have yourself tested for any kind of metal allergies before agreeing to have oral piercings. Many people actually have hypersensitivity to metal without even knowing it.
Additionally, a metal obstruction in your mouth can make it more difficult to perform basic functions such as chewing and speaking. Piercings stimulate the saliva production and this can cause discomforts and even change the taste of food.
Be mindful about the type of jewelry you are selecting for your piercing. It should be pure metal and not a type that can easily succumb to rust formation. Make sure it won’t dislodge from its location as jewelry aspiration is a potential risk. When the jewelry comes loose this presents a choking hazard.
Oral piercings indeed do carry risks. They also entail responsibility to prevent infection and injury to your mouth and teeth. If you are considering an oral piercing, keep in mind that once you decide to get one, you will also have a superficial wound for life.
If you have any questions about your oral health and piercings, be sure to ask your Burnaby Dentist at your next dental appointment.