Dental Risks of Oral Piercings
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Dental Risks of Oral Piercings

Oral and Tooth Piercings

Body piercing has been around for centuries, it is clear that it is not a fading trend. Oral piercing refers to the piercing of soft tissue in the oral cavity. This includes the tongue, cheeks, lips, frenum and surrounding tissues. A tooth piercing is the preparation of a tooth similar to a filling procedure and attachment of a diamond or gem. If you are thinking about an oral piercing or tooth jewellery it is important to know all oral and health risks of the procedure.

Health and Dental Risks of Oral Piercings

  • An oral piercing increases your risk of oral infection. This can be at the time of piercing or after piercing due to bacteria. Bacteria in the mouth can enter the wound. Extreme care is needed when handling jewellery as bacteria easily cause infections.
  • Oral piercings and dental jewellery can cause gingivitis by irritating the soft tissues on contact. This irritation can also lead to gum recession which can create sensitivity.
  • Constant irritation causing gum disease can ultimately lead to periodontal disease that affects bone support.
  • Oral piercings and dental jewellery can cause chips or cracks in teeth. These chips or cracks lead to sensitivity and restorations needed to repair the tooth involved.
  • The piercing or jewellery can cause damage to the soft tissue. Constant irritation can cause abrasions or wounds on the lips or other tissues. If not properly cared for, these areas may become infected.
  • Oral piercings increase an individual’s risk of Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an inflammation of the tissues and valves of the heart due to bacteria in the bloodstream. Since the mouth has millions of bacteria, a piercing may allow the bacteria to travel through the bloodstream to your heart.
  • If the jewellery becomes loose it has the potential to be aspirated into your lungs. This can be very dangerous and cause damage to lungs and may need surgical intervention. The jewellery can also be ingested and cause damage to the esophagus.
  • Oral piercings may interfere with chewing and speech, particularly when there is swelling. They can cause increased saliva production causing an individual to drool.
  • Since the mouth is a very vascular area, there is potential for nerve damage causing numbness or decrease movement. Also, blood loss or heavy bleeding is a concern with piercing.
  • Oral Piercings will result in a permanent scar that may fade with time. Keloids may form around an oral piercing due to the overgrowth of scar tissue.
  • Health conditions may increase one’s risk for complications following piercing. These conditions include heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and hemophilia.
  • You will need to see a healthcare provider if there are signs of infection. Infection signs include redness, swelling, lots of bleeding, puss, bad smell/taste, rash or fever.

Reduce Risks of Oral Jewellery

It is important to first discuss potential risks with your dental professional before getting an oral piercing. It is essential to do your research and find a reputable piercing salon that can answer all health and safety inquiries. The piercing location should provide information about aftercare of the piercing site. By following aftercare routines, you can reduce your risk of complications. It is essential to keep the entire oral cavity healthy to ensure healing. After the site has healed the jewellery can be changed to reduce damage to teeth and soft tissues. A smaller barbell can be used to reduce movement and irritation. Smaller balls or ends could be used to reduce irritation. A metal piercing can be replaced with a soft acrylic stud or barbell.

Dental Professional Recommendations

The Canadian Dental Association discourages oral piercings due to the high risk of infection. This risk is high due to the presence of bacteria in the mouth. Due to eating, drinking and speech the piercing site can be compromised easily. It is crucial to follow all aftercare procedures. Your dental team can answer any questions about getting an oral piercing. Contact us now.

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