Risks of Oral Piercings

added on: July 13, 2020
man with piercing

Piercings of all kinds are popular, especially among adolescents, and can help people feel a sense of individuality or self-expression. Plus, they tend to have the connotation of being cool or trendy. However, when it comes to oral piercings such as tongue or lip piercings, they also come with a host of potential problems and concerns for your dentist in Reston

Potential Problems with Oral Piercings

Besides the fact that oral piercings are painful to get, there are other potential problems you may not have considered, but that are important to know, before getting your tongue or lip pierced. 

  • Permanent Changes. When a piercing is new, it’s common to experience changes in the way you speak and eat. After all, there’s a brand new obstruction in the way that your mouth needs to get used to. While these changes are usually temporary, there’s always the possibility of permanent changes thanks to nerve damage. Our tongues and faces contain a complex web of nerves and if a needle hits one the wrong way, your sense of taste can be permanently altered or you may experience irreversible numbness. 
  • Tooth Damage. Nerves aren’t the only thing at risk for damage when it comes to a lip or tongue piercing. In fact, one of the most common concerns for your dentist in Reston is the increased likelihood of tooth damage. You see, many people who have an oral piercing tend to play with the jewelry habitually, and this constant hitting of metal on teeth means a greater risk of chipped or broken teeth or damaged enamel. All of these forms of tooth damage require early dental treatment before they have a chance to develop into more serious and painful problems. 
  • Gum Disease. The gums are another area that can sustain damage from an oral piercing, which is particularly concerning. When the gum tissue is damaged, it allows mouth bacteria to work their way up under the gum line and find a permanent home. This leads to an infection in the gums, or gum disease. Gum disease can not only cause chronic bad breath and tooth loss, but it can also affect the rest of the body and increases the risk of heart disease and even certain cancers.
  • Infection. While all potential risks associated with oral piercings are serious, perhaps the most serious concern is infection. Infections can happen with any piercing and are actually quite common. However, oral piercings pose a unique problem. Since these piercings are in or around the mouth, and the mouth is naturally loaded with bacteria, the chance of infection may be higher. Additionally, if an infection does occur, the dark, wet, and warm environment of the mouth provides an ideal place for bacteria to multiply and thrive. This can make an infection serious. In fact, an oral piercing infection can even result in swelling of the tongue, which can block the airway and make it difficult to breathe. 

Decrease Your Risk

If you want to get an oral piercing, we encourage you to take some steps to decrease your risk of complications such as:

Picking the Right Piercer. Selecting a professional, trustworthy person to pierce your tongue or lip is the best way to initially protect yourself. Make sure the person you pick has a good reputation and follows sanitization standards. 

Practicing Proper Care. Taking care of your oral piercing can greatly help decrease the likelihood of a problem. Make sure you clean the area thoroughly and rinse your mouth after eating to lower the chance of infection. 

Following Good Oral Hygiene. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and see their dentist in Reston twice a year. However, this may be even more important for those with an oral piercing. 

Knowing the Signs of Infection. If you notice any redness, fever, pain, or swelling seek medical attention immediately. 

We want everyone to feel the freedom to express themselves as they wish, and we want them to do so safely. If you’re considering an oral piercing, talk with your dentist and do your research before jumping in feet first. 

We’re always accepting new patients to all of our Northern Virginia dental offices in Manassas, Reston, Gainesville, Fairfax, and Herndon.