The Dangers of Oral Piercing

One of the more dangerous fads popular today among teens and young adults is oral piercing studs through the tongue and rings through the lips. This type of fashion statement can lead to serious health problems.

The human mouth is filled with germs and bacteria. These can easily pass into the bloodstream via the holes created by these piercings, leading to infection at the site of the hole, and throughout the body. To make matters worse, the conditions under which some of the oral piercings occur aren’t sanitary, also inviting infection. The National Institutes of Health identified piercing as a possible route for hepatitis transmission.

Besides infection, other problems include metal allergy, excessive bleeding during or after the piercing, or breathing problems if the ornament is swallowed.

On top of these medical dangers, the stud or ring itself may crack or damage the teeth and injure sensitive gum tissue. This can require extensive and expensive dental treatment. One study found 50% of people wearing a long barbell (more than 1.59 cm) stem piercing in their tongue for more than two years had gums pull away from the inside of their lower front teeth. Almost half of those wearing the piercing for more than four years had chipped their back teeth.

Having a foreign body through the tongue can also adversely affect the swallowing mechanism, a major part of the digestive system. Plus, it can interfere  with speaking ability.

With all these dangers to consider, we don’t recommend oral piercing for any of our patients.