Guest Blog: The Effects of Oral Piercings on Your Oral Health

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Oral piercing, a form of body art, is said to be a method of self-expression typically seen in adolescents and young adults. The most common sites of these piercings are the tongue, lip, and cheek. While some consider them to be trendy, the ADA advice against oral piercings as there have been evidences that such practice can cause a wide range of oral health complications.

These complications, which can arise during or after the piercings are placed, include the following:

1. Pain and Swelling

Pain and swelling are the most common complications of oral piercings. In worst case scenario, the swelling (usually of the tongue) can be so severe that it actually blocks the airway and cause problems in breathing.

2. Bleeding

As with any procedures that involves punctures and/or incisions, there is a high risk of bleeding when you get oral piercings. This is particularly true if a blood vessel gets punctured during the procedure, resulting to profuse bleeding and blood loss. The tongue is the most prone to this complication due to its highly vascular nature.

3. Damage to Teeth, Restorations, and/or Prostheses

Oral piercings placed in the tongue may abrade or even fracture teeth, especially since the jewelry constantly bumps against the teeth when chewing or speaking. Over time, this habitual contact can chip or crack the tooth enamel, causing exposure of the dentin underneath. And if the crack extends deep enough to reach the pulp, you’ll need to have root canal treatment to fix the problem. Meanwhile, teeth that have restorations and/or prosthesis may also be damaged if the jewelry constantly strikes them.

4. Gum Recession

Metal jewelry can also injure the gum tissue, causing it to recede. According to one study, this complication was identified in about half of individuals with lip and/or tongue piercing. Gum recession exposes the tooth root, making it more susceptible to decay and periodontal disease.

5. Interference with Function

Oral piercings can also interfere with functions because it may cause problems with chewing and swallowing, as well as impede the ability to enunciate words.

6. Potentially life-threatening Infections

Oral piercings may also be associated with infection, which can occur weeks after the procedure. The National Institutes of Health have identified oral piercing as a possible factor in transmitting herpes and hepatitis viruses. A bacterial infection that may lead to endocarditis, or inflammation of the heart tissues, is also possible since the wound produced by the piercing may provide an opportunity for bacteria to travel from the mouth to the heart through the bloodstream.

Another potentially life-threatening infection linked to oral piercings is Ludwig’s angina - a rapidly spreading infection on the floor of the mouth, or the area under the tongue. It results to severe swelling of the lower jaw and neck area, thus causing breathing problems which will require intubation to secure the airway. This condition can be managed through antibiotics and surgical therapy to decompress the swelling.

Needless to say, removal of the jewelry is necessary.

While not all individuals with oral piercings experience any of the problems above, the best way to avoid these problems in the first place is to not have any piercings at all. But if you already got one, it will require constant attention and upkeep. Be sure to keep it clean by practicing good oral hygiene and by visiting your dentist on a regular basis. And if you start to experience any of the problems above, especially infection, consult your dentist or physician immediately.

Disclaimer: This article is contributed by a Guest Blogger. Ping of Health does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this article. Ping of Health disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.