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Are Oral Piercings Worth the Risks?

Why would dental health professionals want to weigh in on oral piercings?

There aren’t many fashion choices that impact oral health, but this one does. The unfortunate reality is that lip and tongue piercings pose serious hazards to the teeth and oral tissues. Anyone considering getting one should be aware of the risks.

The Biggest Risks With Lip and Tongue Piercings

All piercings — even the extremely common earlobe piercing — come with certain risks. They can become infected or you might discover a previously unknown allergy to the metal. These risks apply to oral piercings too, but they aren’t the only ones.

Fidgeting Can Do Permanent Damage

It’s hard enough not to fidget with a stuck piece of food between your teeth when you can’t get a toothpick or some floss, but at least poking at those with our tongues won’t result in chipped or cracked teeth, damage our fillings, or risk soft tissue injuries in the tongue, gums, or lips. Fidgeting with a piercing can easily lead to any of those outcomes, which should be a serious consideration for anyone thinking about getting a lip or tongue ring.

Risk of Nerve Damage and Gum Recession

If not properly placed, a tongue piercing can cause nerve temporary or permanent nerve damage, which could include symptoms like numbness, difficulty with speech and chewing, and can even impact the sense of taste. The gum tissue, meanwhile, can be worn away by the constant friction with a piercing, leaving the roots exposed and vulnerable to decay.

More on Piercing Infections

When you combine the normal risk of infection any piercing has with the amount and variety of bacteria that lives in the human mouth, oral piercings are much harder to keep healthy than a simple ear piercing. Symptoms of an infected piercing include pain, swelling, and inflammation, as well as chills, fever, or shaking. Good oral hygiene habits are absolutely essential for minimizing infection risk.

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