Before you decide to get a tongue or oral piercing as a fashion statement, there are some things you may want to know. For example, did you know that individuals with tongue piercings were 18 times more likely to have gum recession according to a study published in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics? According to the AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) the risk for periodontal disease increases with oral piercings, whether the piercing is in the lip, tongue or check. Studies indicate that 47 percent of people who wore barbell tongue jewelry for 4 or more years had at least one chipped tooth. Let’s not forget that your chances of getting soft tissue infections, nerve damage and numbness, tooth sensitivity and tooth fractures increase significantly as well. That’s quite a risk to take for the sake of artful self-expression.
Since your mouth is full of harmful bacteria it just makes sense that an infection can possibly occur after an oral piercing. Many people experience pain, swelling and an increased saliva flow from the procedure. Metal allergies aren’t all that uncommon either. In fact, a tongue piercing can take four to six weeks to heal, while pierced lips take anywhere from one to two months to heal. With that in mind, it’s even more important to keep your mouth clean by rinsing and brushing after every meal. For good measure, don’t smoke. Smoking slows the natural healing rate to an already slow process, since the area is continually moist.
With cracked, chipped or fractured tooth enamel it’s often the metal jewelry that’s to blame. With lip piercings, the back side of the jewelry rubs inside the mouth and can cause irritation to the opposing tissue. If the metal jewelry rests against soft gum tissue, expect to see recession. Overtime, reconstructive gum surgery may be required to repair the gum loss. With a tongue piercing, accidentally biting down on the stud can result in chipped, cracked or fractured teeth.
Did you want a side of orthodontic work with that piercing?
With tongue piercings, many people develop a damaging habit of pushing the barbell implants or studs up against and between their upper incisors or two front teeth. A recent case study from The University of Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine, reported that one subject participant, who had a barbell tongue stud in place for seven years, developed a space between her two front teeth because of repeated “stud pushing.” It took a while, but this action literally created a gap or space significant enough to require orthodontic work and braces.
At our Southfield dental practice, we don’t recommend oral piercings, but if you do have one, we can show you the best way to keep the area hygienic and reduce your risks for gum recession and periodontal disease. If you’re thinking of getting an oral piercing, see us first before making the BIG decision. It’s important to stay informed and to know the risks before you leap. We make every effort to take good care of our patients, so we feel it is our obligation to inform our patients of the pros and cons of any choice they may make that can have painful or permanent consequences for them. We are here to help, not lecture. Call us at 248-356-8790 and discover the difference a great dentist can make!
Until next time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD