Oral piercings seem to be extremely popular among adolescents and young adults simply because it’s often considered a form of self-expression. There’s also a tendency for people to think it’s a cool thing to do – but is it actually safe or can it lead to oral infections?
The American Dental Association states that if you’ve pierced your tongue, lips, cheeks or uvula, it can interfere with your speech, chewing or swallowing.
Our General Dentist, Dr. Eman Haggag tackles the most commonly asked questions related to oral piercings.
Can oral piercings cause infections?
Any trauma which involves breaking the surface of the skin or mucous tissue (that’s the tissue inside the mouth) carries with it a risk of infection. That is because it opens a portal for bacteria which are present on the skin surface and in a much greater number inside the oral cavity. This is especially true for lip piercings which are particularly prone to infection as they are continuous with the mouth cavity as well as the skin surface.
However, although the human oral cavity is home to millions of bacteria, the risk of infection is actually not very high. This is due to the fact that oral tissues have a very high and fast capacity to heal as they receive an extensive blood supply with the nutrients and oxygen needed for healing readily available. So, the faster the healing, the less the chance of bacterial invasion and infection.
There is also of course always a risk of contracting a viral infection such as Hepatitis B or C which will be related to factors within the place where the piercing will be made (not following cross infection and hygiene procedures etc.) but that is easily avoided by choosing only the most reputable parlors to get the piercing very carefully and personally make sure that they are following strict guidelines for sterilization and hygiene.
How do people avoid such infections if they have oral piercings?
Well, first of all, I would advise anyone thinking about getting an oral piercing to have a thorough oral and dental check-up, especially to assess their oral hygiene. If you do not have good oral hygiene do not get an oral piercing. This would most definitely increase the risk of infection greatly.
After you get the piercing, make sure to keep the area clean especially after meals. Use an antiseptic mouthwash or salt solution for rinsing and it goes without saying to avoid smoking at all costs! Until the healing is completed.
It is very important to watch very closely for any signs of infection which include redness, fever, chills or swelling especially swelling of the tongue as this can become life-threatening if allowed to progress without intervention. If you notice any of these signs you must seek medical attention immediately.
Can tongue piercings ruin your teeth?
Yes, they most certainly can ruin your teeth. They’re made of a hard material that is placed within a confined space where the teeth and facial muscles are in a continuous dynamic state. This can cause the piercings to traumatize the delicate oral tissues or to cause breakage of the teeth or wear of the teeth structures over time.
Can you treat infections from oral piercings or is it not treatable?
If recognized early, a bacterial infection can be easily managed with antibiotics but will, in most cases, involve removing the piercing to allow for healing.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our general dentists at Dr. Michael’s Dental Clinic