When it comes to decorating your mouth or tongue you should think twice and know the facts. When asked about oral piercings most dental professionals say no. The risks right after an oral piercing are same as any open wound, including pain, swelling, infection and scar tissue formation, but can be more serious when it involves the tongue.
Risks of oral piercing vary depending on the location of the oral piercing. Common placements of oral piercings are on the tongue, labret (the space between the lower lip and chin), lips, uvula or cheeks.
Piercings through the tongue or lip, or below the tongue, can cause tooth damage such as cracked or chipped teeth. Piercings through the floor of the mouth below the tongue or through the tongue have the highest risk of serious infection as they have the highest blood flow and are closest to the airway. Other risks include nerve, muscle or gum tissue damage. Piercings can also cause the gums to recede which may cause tooth decay and gum disease.
If after knowing all the facts you are still inclined in getting an oral piercing be sure to take precautions to avoid damage to your mouth and self. Below is a list of precautionary measures put out by the Ontario Dental Association, before and after oral piercings.
- Check out the cleanliness of the place doing the piercing. Do they have an infection-control policy posted? A recent investigation by the Toronto Star and the Ryerson University School of Journalism found that half of the complaints filed against personal service settings in Toronto, such as tattoo and piercing parlours, involved items not being properly cleaned or sterilized.
- Ensure that the practitioner performing the piercing is experienced and uses strict infection-control practices (an autoclave sterilizer, for example, for non-disposable equipment, and new needles and gloves) to avoid serious infections such as hepatitis B and C, and HIV. Ask for detailed after-care instructions.
- Disinfect your oral jewelry regularly and brush the jewelry the same as you would your teeth.
- If piercings are in close proximity to the teeth, make sure the ends, or even the entire stud, are made of plastic.
- Try to avoid the tongue or the floor of the mouth for piercing because of its higher risk of infection.
- Seek immediate medical or dental attention if you experience excessive bleeding, swelling or pain following a piercing, or if there is any evidence of infection (an odour or fluid from the piercing, for example).
- Visit your dentist regularly so that he or she can closely monitor the piercing and any potential damage to teeth and gums.
Dr. Elizabeth Dimovski and Associated – We Protect Your Smile!