Oral Jewelry Is Not As Harmless As It Looks

What You Really Need to Know Before Getting Piercings

For many people getting tongue piercings today, it may seem like there is no connection between a dentist and your mouth jewelry. The truth, however, is that there is a strong connection between the two. In fact, if you talk to your dentist about oral jewelry, you will likely hear that it is not a good idea.

Why You Should Talk to Dentists

Dentists are able to see the effect of oral jewelry on teeth. They see what happens in the mouth over the long term because of mouth piercings. There is no way for them to downplay what they see on a regular basis. The damage often does not occur quickly, but it is obvious and it is expensive to repair it.

Why Oral Jewelry Is a Problem

Even though it may be the "in" thing to do now, people rarely find out beforehand why mouth jewelry is not good. The problems include:

  • Infection – The way the mouth is constructed, it will normally keep bacteria in its place – in the mouth. There are more than 500 kinds of bacteria in your mouth, and most of it is good when confined there. Putting a hole in the lining of your mouth or tongue provides an avenue for the bacteria to cause a tongue infection – possibly a very dangerous one. Playing with the jewelry with your fingers can introduce even more bacteria to your mouth.

Some people have been badly infected through tongue piercings. If the infection gets into your brain, which it can because of the proximity to many blood vessels in the head and tongue, it could be fatal.

  • Swollen Tongue – The tongue is going to swell in most cases when it is pierced for tongue rings. The swelling could become bad enough that it cuts off part of your airway and make it difficult to breathe.

  • Damage to Your Teeth – Many people with tongue piercings like to play with it. They often will push against their front teeth with it. Because many tongue bars are metal, this can chip the teeth, damage the enamel, and wear away the gums. It can occur when you are awake or asleep, or even when talking. The damage can continue to your teeth until you get deep fractures. While smaller chipped teeth can easily be fixed, a fractured tooth may end up needing a root canal and a crown.

  • Limited Function – The mouth jewelry can get in the way of normal eating and talking. It will change how you do these things and it will take a little time to get used to it. Another problem could be drooling. A tongue bar often causes excessive drooling.

  • Excessive Bleeding – The tongue has some large blood vessels in it, and if it is pierced, it can lead to heavy bleeding. If that happens, you will likely need to go to the hospital in order to have it stopped. In the meantime, you could experience considerable blood loss.

  • Heart Valve Problems – As some of the bacteria from your mouth enter your bloodstream, it can travel to your organs and heart. It could cause inflammation in some people and damage the heart valves.

  • Gum Disease – As the gums recede, the roots of your front teeth become exposed, which can lead to cavities. The risk of gum disease is higher because they no longer keep out the bacteria as they did before. This can open the door for inflammation and periodontal disease. The American Dental Association reports that as many as 50 percent of people with piercings have receding gums.

  • Movement of the Teeth – Most people who wear tongue jewelry rarely take them out – even when they sleep. This is because the tongue can heal quickly, possibly making it impossible to replace if left out for a few hours. Because of the frequent pressure against the front teeth over a few years, it can cause the teeth to move and may create gaps in the teeth even where one did not exist previously.

Potential Risk for Various Diseases

Depending on who does the piercing and how sanitary their tools are, it is possible to get some kind of disease from the piercing. If the tools are not properly sanitized (a piercing gun cannot be sanitized), you may end up getting hepatitis B or C, HIV, and more.

If you are thinking about getting oral jewelry, particularly tongue piercing, you want to make sure that you follow the directions carefully to reduce the risk of infection and gum disease. Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist in the Carrollton, TX and Grapevine, TX areas, can provide advice or treatment for these dental problems when needed. For a consultation or dental treatment for better dental health, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.