Oral Piercings Have a Bigger Impact on the Health of Your Teeth and Gums Than You Think
What Are Oral Piercings?
Body modification is growing in popularity, with numerous people every year getting tattoos and piercings. Oral piercings in particular seem to be gaining popularity. These piercings involve the tongue, underneath the tongue, lips, cheeks (especially close to the lips), uvula, or any combination of sites in or near the mouth.
If you decide to get an oral piercing, you may not realize that these piercings can become a detriment to your oral health for a variety of reasons. These reasons can range from a dirty piercing needle, poorly followed aftercare, or even damage to the teeth and gums from the metal jewelry.
Complications from Oral Piercings
Getting an oral piercing is not like getting an ear piercing. Pierced ears are very common, and although the site can become infected, it is not as likely to lead to damage to other body systems. Oral piercings, however, are near the very sensitive teeth and gums, and this can lead to many kinds of problems ranging from chipped teeth to infections.
The most serious problems include:
- Infections: the mouth is home to many kinds of bacteria. While these do not normally harm people, when there is an open wound such as a fresh piercing, these bacteria can move in and lead to an extensive infection very quickly. This is especially the case if you do not take proper care of your new piercing, and do not follow a good oral hygiene routine. Warm salt water rinses, antibacterial mouth wash, regular brushing and flossing, and close following of piercing aftercare will help reduce the risk of infection, but it is still a possibility. In addition, unclean piercing needles can also increase the risk of herpes simplex I and II in the mouth, as well as hepatitis B and C.
- Nerve Damage: although it is less likely with a highly trained piercer, there is a possibility that the piercing can cause nerve damage. This can be due to the initial piercing hitting a nerve and damaging it, or it could be due to poorly fitted jewelry later. In some cases, nerve damage is caused by infection, as well.
- Allergic Reaction: it is tough to know whether or not you will be allergic to a specific metal until you come in direct contact with it. In some rare cases, adults can develop an allergic reaction over time, due to exposure, as well. Swelling, pain, infection, and tissue damage are all results of allergic reactions to metal, especially around the mouth. This can lead to complications with oral health by damaging nerves, gum tissue, and the root structure of teeth.
These potential problems can be caused by any piercing, not just an oral piercing. However, there are specific dental issues that can be caused by an oral piercing, like:
- Damage to Teeth: since oral piercings are mostly metal, possibly with ceramic or plastic pieces, these jewelry items can hit the teeth and cause damage to the enamel, or even crack or chip the teeth. They can be particularly hard on fillings.
- Gum Injury: metal pieces can cut into the gums, increasing the risk of infection, as well as pain, swelling, and nerve damage. Sometimes, the gums might recede from the tooth or move off the tooth, exposing part of the underlying, softer tooth area, because of a reaction to the metal jewelry.
- Problems with Dental Exams: oral piercings can interfere with dental exams and x-rays. Although these jewelry pieces can sometimes be removed in order to take an accurate x-ray, new piercings need to stay in place as part of aftercare, but this can make dental exams more complicated.
Maintain Oral Health Before and After Piercing
If you decide to get an oral piercing, visit your dentist first. Beaufils Dental, headed by Dr. Lloyd E. Beaufils, can speak with you about all the possible side-effects of an oral piercing before you get it. We can also help you manage aftercare with regular check-ups, and we are available if you have a dental emergency.
It is also incredibly important to research professional piercers. Online reviews can be very helpful, as well as word-of-mouth. If your friends have oral piercings, for example, ask them about their experience with their piercer. You should also visit the piercing studio – you can see how clean the space is, speak with professional piercers about their practices, make sure they maintain hygiene standards, and see for yourself that the studio has maintained all of its health certificates as required by the state.
After getting set up with Beaufils Dental, and a professional, qualified piercer, it is up to you to follow the aftercare instructions. Complete these in full! If you have concerns, contact your dentist to see if they have any recommendations about aftercare, as well. This drastically reduces the possibility of dental harm.
Some home tips include:
- Drink cold, sugarless beverages to reduce initial swelling. However, if swelling continues past the first few days, contact your dentist or doctor for help.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol until the piercing site has healed.
- Do not pull at the jewelry, especially in the first week or two after piercing.
- Avoid sugary, spicy, or acidic foods for a few days to two weeks.
- Thoroughly clean your mouth, and the piercing. Follow the piercer’s instructions, and check with your dentist for oral hygiene help.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Find a Dentist with Oral Piercing Experience
Beaufils Dental is conveniently located in Cooper City, Florida. Headed by friendly and knowledgeable Dr. Lloyd E. Beaufils, our staff has experience helping the whole family with dental care. This includes young adults who are interested in or have oral piercings. Contact Beaufils Dental today by calling 954-252-1390, or through our online scheduler. We are happy to answer any questions about oral piercings and their long-term care!