While a tongue piercing may seem like a cool idea, you should consider the oral health implications before heading to the tattoo parlor or piercing studio to get this seemingly minor procedure done. Oral piercings could lead from anything to slight mouth discomfort and excess drooling to serious infections and tooth loss.
Many Potential Complications
Infection. Believe it or not, the mouth contains millions of bacteria. As a result, infection and swelling can occur with tongue piercings. If not treated right away, this infection could become life threatening. Another, perhaps unexpected complication, is swelling of the tongue, which can block the airway and cause you to choke.
Teeth and Gum Damage. People who bite or play with the tongue piercing can injure their gums and cause recession of the tissue, which could end up leading to tooth loss and loose teeth. Plus, this common habit can cause sensitive, cracked, or scratched teeth, as well as damage to the fillings. One study found that nearly half of people wearing barbell tongue jewelry for four-plus years had at least one chipped tooth.
Allergic Reactions. People with hypersensitivity to metals could develop reactions at the site of the piercing.
Numbness. Sometimes after the tongue piercing, people experience numbness caused by nerve damage. Luckily, this is usually a temporary complication, but it can be permanent on occasion. This injured nerve could impact how the mouth moves and the sense of taste.
Increased Saliva Production. A tongue piercing can lead to excessive drooling, as well as problems speaking clearly and difficulties chewing and swallowing food.
X-ray Difficulties. The piercing can disrupt dental exams since the jewelry might block X-rays, resulting in multiple attempts to get the images.
Take Proactive Steps
If you still want to have your tongue pierced (despite all of these various risks), take some proactive steps to find the best place to have the procedure done.
First, talk to friends and family members for references. Then, check out the studios and see if they look clean. Ask about their sterilization techniques and if the staff use disposable gloves. Also inquire about health certificates and if employees involved in the piercings have received vaccinations against hepatitis B.
Once you get the piercing, contact your doctor or dentist right away if there is a hint of infection, such as swelling, pain, fever, chills, or red streaks around the site.
For everyday care, use mouth rinse right after every meal to keep the area extra clean. Also avoid clicking the jewelry on the teeth and be aware of the jewelry’s movement while talking and chewing. In addition, periodically check the jewelry’s tightness to ensure the piece won’t become a choking hazard and remove the jewelry when participating in any contact sports.
If you have additional questions about the best ways to maintain your piercing, please reach out to our experienced staff. We’re happy to help with any concerns you might have.