Oral Piercings

Many dental offices are seeing patients (particularly young people) with pierced tongues, lips, or cheeks. Such piercings can lead to oral complications, including pain, swelling, infection, injury to gingival tissues, and in-creased saliva flow. With tongue piercings, damage can occur to the blood vessel and cause prolonged bleeding or even blood poisoning. In extreme cases, swelling of the tongue can close the airway. Mouth jewelry can interfere with normal mouth function, oral health evaluations in the dental office, and can damage teeth and gums, and lead to gingival recession. Constant contact with metal mouth jewelry can chip or crack teeth and damage restorations, and speaking, chewing, swallowing, and salivation are impeded by the jewelry. Excessive saliva production can affect the person's ability to speak clearly, and can choke the patient if the jewelry becomes loose in the mouth. Oral piercings can also block transmission of x-rays and other essential components of the oral health evaluation. Many young people do not realize the side effects of oral piercings.

(Source: GDA Action, The Journal of the Georgia Dental Association, Vol. 24, No. 7, July 2004)