While oral piercings may be trendy, they can also create a host of problems, and not just with dental issues.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “Oral piercings or tongue splitting may look cool, but they can be dangerous to your health. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, infection and swelling often occur with mouth piercings.” Besides being uncomfortable, an infection can cause swelling that can block your airway. You are also at risk for more serious infections such as endocarditis or hepatitis B or C, or damage to heart valves if you have heart disease. Any infection can quickly become life threatening if not treated promptly.
There are choking hazards associated with any part of mouth jewelry that could break off in your mouth, or the breakage of a tooth caused by biting down on a piercing insertion, and some people develop allergic reactions to metals at the piercing site.
During piercing, nerves may be damaged, either temporarily or permanently, causing loss of feeling, taste or the ability to move your mouth or tongue normally. A tongue piercing can also cause you to drool excessively. And since there are many blood vessels in the tongue, a piercing there can put you at risk for severe bleeding and blood loss.
Some people develop a nervous habit of clicking their piercing jewelry against their teeth or biting down on it. This can easily crack or scratch teeth, crack fillings or lead to tooth sensitivity. Damage to teeth can also occur during normal speaking, chewing or even while you are sleeping, and a piercing can alter your ability to chew, speak or swallow normally.
Proper Care of Oral Piercings
Keeping the piercing site clean is the number-one priority. In addition to regular brushing, those with piercings should use an antibacterial mouth rinse or swish the area with salt water after meals, and regularly clean the mouth jewelry whenever possible. It is advised to remove the jewelry each night to enable proper cleaning of your teeth and the jewelry itself.
When selecting oral jewelry, opt for surgical-grade steel, solid gold or platinum. These will hold up best and cause the least allergic reaction. Even with high-quality materials, check your mouth jewelry on a regular basis to ensure that it is properly secured, that balls are tight, and that it has not developed cracks. This reduces the likelihood of choking should a piece become dislodged. Oral jewelry should be removed when engaging in sports and stored in a clean container.
Regular dental visits, along with routine cleaning and flossing, can monitor your dental health and your piercing sites. If possible, remove mouth jewelry before a dental visit so it does not impair your dentist’s ability to perform a full examination and cleaning, or block x-ray images.
Prior to getting an oral piercing, it is advised to ensure that your vaccinations for hepatitis B and tetanus are up to date. And look for a piercing shop that appears clean. Insist on proper sanitizing procedures such as hand-washing, fresh disposable gloves, and that the technician uses sterilized or new disposable tools and needles instead of a piercing gun. You may even want to ask the piercer if they have been vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Seek Immediate Attention
At the first signs of infection, abnormal swelling or the appearance of red streaks around the piercing site; or for symptoms of a bad smell, pain, fever or chills, make an appointment with your dental professional immediately. Infection can occur at the time of piercing, or at any time after that, and left unchecked, could rapidly escalate to a life-threatening condition.
What is an Oral Piercing?
An oral piercing is most commonly defined as the alteration of one’s physical features in and around the mouth. Usually, it is a small hole made into mouth tissue into which a piece of jewelry can be inserted and worn.
The types of oral piercings can include piercing of the tongue or tongue web, uvula, upper frenulum (vampire piercing), gums, lip, cheek, or even tongue splitting. It can also include tooth piercing or multiple piercings such as a “venom bites” or “snake eyes” piercing.
Make EverSmile Dentistry
Although at EverSmile Dentistry, we do not perform oral piercings, we respect your right to have them and are well versed in how to treat oral issues that may arise from them. Please contact us immediately if you are experiencing any symptoms or signs of infection from your oral piercing.
Keep in mind that we would also like to be your regular dentist; we’d love to have you as our patient. We’re conveniently located in Sterling, Virginia to serve patients living or working in Northern Virginia. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment.