An Important Oral Health Message

The Risks of Tongue Piercing

Tongue piercing, or piercing of any other intraoral ( within the mouth ) site, is associated with a variety of risks. Please consider these risks carefully before deciding whether to have your tongue pierced.

RISKS OF INFECTION: Body piercers must adhere to infection control standards, such as steriliation of needles and other instruments, to prevent disease transmission; but many practitioners are unlicensed and often self-trained. Intraoral piercing has a high risk of infection because of high levels of bacteria in the mouth. Infection can lead to a variety of health problems. See your dentist immediately if you can get an infection.

RISK OF DENTAL DAMAGE: Intraoral jewelry can injure teeth by chipping or cracking enamel. While cracking may be confined to the tooth surface, it may also go deep into the tooth. This could result in nerve damage, leading to the need for root canal ( a procedure by which the small, tubular channel normally filled with pulp in the rooth of the tooth is open, cleaned, and filled ) or an extraction. Most dentists discourage oral piercing because of these other risks.

Tongue piercing is painful, as no anesthesia is used. Complications of tongue piercing, other than those listed above can include:

  • Loss of blood during the piercing procedure
  • Compromise of airway by post-surgical tongue swelling
  • Gingival ( gum ) tissue damage
  • Increased salivary flow ( drooling )
  • Allergic reactions to metal in jewelry
  • Impeded speech, chewing ability and swallowing

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