Oral Piercings… How Safe Are They?

While one may consider oral piercings a way of self expression, they must also consider the possible complications and problems that may arise.

When it comes to oral piercings, more dental professionals would not recommend it. Like any injury, one may expect pain, swelling, infections and scar tissue formation, these are only primary problems. With oral piercings, secondary infections may arise and they can be very serious.

If you, or your child are considering an oral piercing, please read below and consider every possibility before making your decision.

What exactly is an oral piercing?

An oral piercing is a piercing anywhere in, or around the mouth. They usually consist of a stainless steel, gold, titanium, plastic or nickel rings or barbells.

What problems can an oral piercing cause?

Problems depend on the area of the piercing. In most cases, tongue, lip, or below the tongue piercings can cause chipping of the teeth, it is recommended that you use plastic jewelry as this may be less damaging.

Tongue piercings, or piercings below the tongue are most prone to serious infections because both these areas have high blood supply. Infections of these areas can be very dangerous because if swelling occurs, one may chance an obstructed airway, which may be life threatening.

Nerve or muscle damage is another problem that can arise. While not usually serious or permanent, it may be unnerving to the individual.

Labret piercings constantly rub against the opposing gum tissue which causes receding gums and root exposure. The root surfaces of our teeth are more susceptible to decay.

Other complications include: bad breath, drooling, and problems with chewing and swallowing.

What are the best precautionary measures?

–          Make sure that your tattoo/piercing parlor is clean and sterile

–          Ensure the practitioner performing the service is experienced and practices using proper infection control.

–          Disinfect your oral jewelry properly and brush it like you brush your teeth.

–          If close to the teeth, use plastic at the ends of your jewelry to prevent tooth chipping.

–          Seek immediate attention from your family doctor or dentist if you experience anything out of the ordinary (swelling, pain, excessive bleeding, or infection)

–          See your dentist for regular check-ups so that they can monitor the piercing and any potential damage to the teeth and gums.

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