To Pierce or Not to Pierce?

While oral piercings are a popular fad among teenagers, there are many risks to consider before deciding to pierce your tongue:

Procedure Related Risks

  • Infection: Infection is possible with any opening in skin or oral tissues. Considering that the mouth is teeming with bacteria, oral piercing carries a high potential for infection at the piercing site. Handling the jewelry after it is placed can also lead to infection. Failing to properly care for the piercing immediately following the procedure can also cause infection.
  • Swelling: Swelling is a common symptom of piercings. The tongue is in constant motion which can slow and complicate the healing process.

Jewelry Related Complications

  • Injury to the gums: Metal jewelry in general can injure gums and if placed where it is in constant contact with the gums, it can cause the soft tissue to recede.
  • Damage to the teeth: Contact with the jewelry can chip or crack the teeth or dental restorations.
  • Interference with normal oral function: Oral jewelry can stimulate excessive saliva production, impede the ability to pronounce words clearly and may cause problems with chewing and swallowing food.
  • Aspiration: There is always the potential for the jewelry to become loose which then becomes a choking hazard.

If you do decide to proceed with an oral piercing, extra dental care should be taken. Make sure when you brush your teeth that you also brush your tongue; take the jewelry out daily and clean it with warm water and soap and rinse the hole in the tongue with a small stream of water.