Self-expression via piercings or tattoos is a common occurrence these days. Long gone are the days where most parents did not allow their children or themselves from using their body as a piece of art. Some tattoos are amazingly detailed and look real. Some piercings, in the right places, can give someone an extra sparkle. However, when it comes to oral piercings, you teeth and oral tissues may not be so pleased with such a choice.
Oral piercings refer to any piercing that is in or around the mouth. The more traditional version of this included lip and tongue piercings. In more recent times, most dentists have seen every area of the mouth pieced. This can include the tongue, the frenulum, the gums, and even the uvula (the funny piece of tissue hanging down in the back of your throat).
There are a few reasons that oral piercings can harm us. Let’s review them:
With any piercing, even ears, there is a risk of infection. It is important to keep the area clean. In the mouth, this is especially challenging given that the mouth is home to millions of bacteria. These bacteria can enter the area that is pierced and cause dangerous infections. The initial weeks following the piercing are the highest risk times. If you experience pain, swelling, fever, or redness around the piercing, you may be experiencing an infection from the piercing.
Tooth and gum damage
Biting down on accident on a piercing can cause teeth to chip, scratch or fracture. This can lead to bigger dental issues and tooth sensitivity. The gum tissues can become scratched or irritated from the piercing as well. Fillings and crowns are also at risk for damage.
It can be common to experience numbness due to nerve damage after an oral piercing. This usually is temporary. The body’s sense of taste can be affected by this damage as well. The tongue may not work as well, and one can start to lisp if the piercing is near or on the tongue.
This type of reaction is definitely possible. There are people with metal allergies or hypersensitivity to metals that can experience a reaction from the piercing.
From a dental standpoint, there are a lot more negatives than positives to this type of piercing. Dental x-rays and preventative scans of the mouth can have interference with oral piercings. Your dentist may ask you to remove your piercing to really be able to diagnose a dental issue.
If you or your child has an oral piercing, it is vital that you follow up with your dentist for regular visits so that the aforementioned complications can be avoided.
Self expression is a wonderful way to tell the world who you are; doing harm to your teeth and gums by getting oral piercings is perhaps not the best way to express oneself.
Dr. Jamie Sahouria is Rohnert Park’s only full time, board certified pediatric dentist. She works at 1303 Medical Center Drive, where she and partner doctors provide dental care and braces for kids and adults. Dr. Jamie is a Rohnert Park native and is a proud graduate of The Ranch. She can be reached via her website at www.BrushFlosssSmile.com