Over the past 15 years, oral piercings have become a popular form of self-expression throughout the U.S. – even in Hendricks County. While an oral piercing may look cool, what you may not know is, lip, tongue or cheek piercings can cause various dental problems.
An oral piercing is when a sterile needle is inserted through the tissue of the lips, cheeks, tongue or uvula (the small tissue that hangs at the back of your throat) to make a hole, so jewelry, like barbells, rings and studs, can be worn. Unlike ear piercings, oral piercings have a greater health risk associated with them. Some common dental problems that can result from oral piercings include:

  • Infection, pain and swelling. Your mouth is filled with bacteria. A piercing creates a wound that can develop an infection due to this bacteria. Also, bacteria can enter your bloodstream through this wound and travel to your heart, causing cardiovascular problems. And dangerous swelling of your tongue is possible when you have your tongue pierced. This swelling could potentially block your airway and make breathing difficult.
  • Gum disease. When the post of a jewelry stud rubs against your gums, the gum tissue can recede, leading to gingivitis or gum disease.
  • Damage to teeth and fillings. The constant rubbing or biting of mouth jewelry can chip, crack or break your teeth. Mouth jewelry can also crack a filling or cause it to fall out. Gum disease due to the oral piercings can lead to loose teeth and/or tooth loss.
  • Nerve damage. Oral piercings can cause numbness or the loss of sensation at the piercing site if your nerves are damaged during the procedure. Tongue piercings can even injure your tongue, making movement difficult.
  • Excessive drooling. A tongue piercing can increase your saliva production.
  • Mouth sores. Mouth jewelry can rub excessively against the inside of your mouth, causing sores to form.
  • Problems with daily oral functions. A tongue piercing can make it difficult for you to talk clearly, and/or chew and swallow food.
  • Dental appointment issues. Mouth jewelry can cause shadows on dental X-rays or totally obscure portions of the X-ray. If you have an oral piercing, the staff at Danville Family Dentistry, located in Hendricks County, will ask you to remove your mouth jewelry before any X-rays are taken.

If you already have an oral piercing, and you get an infection or have another dental concern, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jon Erickson at our Hendricks County office by calling (317) 745-4400.
If you’re thinking about getting an oral piercing, talk with Dr. Erickson for more information about proper dental care of your piercing to help you maintain your healthy smile.