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Tongue Piercings: Safe or Dangerous?

August 2, 2022

Piercings have been around for thousands of years and are a way for people to display their religious leanings, enhance physical aesthetics, test pain tolerance, or just follow a trend.

What Are Piercings?

In a world of over 7.7 billion people, it’s easy to get drowned out. So, many indulge in various forms of body art to express their individuality. Piercings have been around for thousands of years and are a way for people to display their religious leanings, enhance physical aesthetics, test pain tolerance, or just follow a trend. While piercings can be a beautiful way of self-expression, they may be harmful in the long term.

Risks Of Oral Piercings

Oral piercings include piercings done on the tongue, lips, cheeks, or uvula (the soft flap of tissue that hangs down at the back of the mouth), some of the most sensitive parts of our body. As a result, there are multiple complications you might have to deal with.

  • Infection - The mouth is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria due to its wet environment. This bacteria can get trapped inside the piercings and lead to infections.
  • Swelling - Piercing is technically a wound and swelling is the body’s reaction to an injury. However, swelling inside your mouth can block your airway, impair speech and make eating and drinking uncomfortable for a while.
  • Choking hazard - There is always a chance of a part of the jewelry breaking off and getting caught in your throat and making it difficult to breathe.
  • Damage to teeth - People often tend to fidget with their tongue piercing, clicking, and dragging it across their teeth. This leads to cracks in the tooth enamel, which in turn leads to cavities.
  • Damage to gums - It is seen that people with lip piercings experience premature gum recession. This means that they lose their gum tissue near the piercing earlier than usual. Gum loss is directly related to the loss of teeth.
  • Blood vessel punctures - Since the tongue and frenum (the soft tissue that runs in a thin line between the lips and gums) have a lot of blood vessels and nerves, inserting needles in these parts can sometimes lead to a lot of blood loss.
  • Dental appointment difficulties - The jewelry can get in the way of dental care by blocking x-rays. Dental hygienists might also find it difficult to insert and operate certain cleaning tools (like a dental drill) in your mouth due to the piercings.

Oral Piercing Tips 

In spite of all the risks involved, if you still want to get oral piercings (or already have them), here are some tips that will help you ensure your health and safety. 

  1. The piercer should be licensed

Pick a salon that is clean, well-run, and has a license. Make sure that your piercer washes their hands with soap, wears fresh disposable gloves, and uses sterilized tools for every appointment. 

  1. Hepatitis B and Tetanus vaccines

Be up to date on these vaccines as they protect you from serious infections. Maybe, also ask your piercer if they have taken their Hepatitis B vaccine.

  1.  Jewelry material

The safest non-toxic metals for a permanent piercing are surgical steel, pure gold, or titanium.

  1. Keep checking for tightness

Once in a while, do check whether your piercing is tight enough so as to not result in swallowing or choking.

  1. Avoid clicking the jewelry

Consciously try not to put stress on the piercing by clicking it against the teeth and gums. Also, be gentle while eating. Avoid hard, chewy, and acidic food.

  1. Remove the piercing while practicing sports

If you can, remove the jewelry while you are playing so as to minimize the impact in case you get hurt. Always use a mouthguard. First thing's first, piercings inside the mouth can be extra sensitive and tricky to care for, so make sure you're ready to commit.

Oral Piercing Dental Care

After getting a piercing, you might experience short-term symptoms like pain, swelling, and excessive saliva. Thus, it is necessary to give your mouth organs enough time (about 4-12 weeks) to heal. During the healing period, use a gentle brush. Also, do not consume extra hot or cold beverages. Once healed, make sure to keep the jewelry clean and free of any food matter, bacteria, or plaque that may get collected on it. Use a warm saltwater rinse or a non-alcoholic mouthwash after every meal. You should visit a dentist twice a year anyway. But do not miss your appointment especially when you have an oral piercing.