With the popularity of oral piercings today, you can get your cheeks, tongue, lip, parts of your gums, or even your uvula (the small piece of tissue hanging down in the back of your mouth) pierced. While oral piercings have become very versatile, they do have potential damaging side effects for your mouth. What damage could oral piercings cause to your smile?
Cracked or Chipped Teeth
No matter what part of your mouth is pierced, you’ll likely be fitted by your piercer with metal jewelry to hold the hole that the needle has made. This metal jewelry has the potential to cause damage by repeating hitting against your teeth. This can chip or crack your teeth, which will require treatment. Chipped teeth can be unsightly and cause problems with biting or chewing and may need a dental crown or other cosmetic dentistry done. Cracked teeth can be very painful as they expose nerves, which regulate your feeling of hot and cold in the mouth. You may have extreme sensitivity to hot and cold with your damaged nerves, and over time your teeth may suffer further damage from root exposure that cannot be reversed.
When you first get pierced, your piercer will likely put a longer piece of jewelry in your mouth—especially the tongue—to accommodate the swelling that will occur as your piercing is trying to heal. These tongue barbells are ¾ inches in length. At this length, your piercing can rub or hit against your gums as you speak and chew, and this interaction can cause recession of the gums or injury to the gums. Gum recession can lead to gum disease, which can cause exposed tooth nerves and red and bleeding gums. Gum disease can also lead to tooth loss (from loose teeth) and tooth decay from lack of gum tissue to protect them. It’s important to have the correct size of jewelry after the swelling goes down to help prevent damage.
Infections, Bleeding, and Loss of Sensation
Getting an oral piercing opens a wound in your mouth that has the potential to get infected. Infections in your mouth from tongue piercings could cause severe swelling that may impair breathing. Cheap jewelry can not only harbor bacteria which can cause infection, but it can also come loose and pieces of the jewelry can fall out, causing a choking hazard. An experienced piercer who provides sterile, quality jewelry is important, as well as for proper placement of your jewelry—if your piercer hits a blood vessel, this will cause excessive bleeding. If they hit a nerve, you may experience numbness or lack of sensation in your mouth that may or may not go away.
Whatever your reason may be for considering getting pierced, consider the risks and potential damage that oral piercings can cause. Your smile needs to last a lifetime, so if you do get pierced, be sure to take care of your dental health and follow your piercer’s instructions for healing to prevent infections or tooth and gum damage.