If you have teenagers, then chances are good you’ve had a discussion with them about either tattoos or piercings. Or maybe even both. In a parent’s mind, when it comes to these topics, typically less is more, but knowing the basic facts about the downside to oral piercings of the tongue and lips means you’ll be ready with some information to dispel some of that teen angst before it hits. …“But, Mom!”
Risks Associated with Oral Peircings
There are several risks that oral piercings can present. One of the most common types of piercings, the tongue barbell, is a frequent cause for chips, fractures and cracks in the front teeth, which then need to be repaired with fillings or crowns. Tongue barbells can also damage gums, leading to gum recession and eventual tooth loss. Teens also run the risk accidentally ingesting the jewelry into their lungs (aspiration), or their digestive tract, where it could cause internal tears in the intestine.
The most common issue raised in conjunction with tongue or lip piercings is the very real threat of infection, and in rare cases, even death. The mouth is a prime spot for infection – moist and full of bacteria. According to a review by dermatologists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, over 20% of all piercings get infected. Because the tongue has major blood vessels, the threat of spreading infection to the brain and other parts of the body, including the heart, is of concern. There is also a danger of puncturing one of these blood vessels during the piercing procedure itself, which could lead to serious blood loss.
If your teen is convinced they need to don an oral piercing, inform them of the risks, and be sure they have the procedure completed at a reputable clinic that follows strict sterilization procedures for all involved instruments. Also, keep an eye on the piercing to monitor for anything that may appear to be amiss, and report any concerns to your dentist or doctor as soon as they are discovered. It’s very likely, even armed with these facts, that you won’t change your kids’ minds about getting a piercing, but being informed will help keep the process as safe and healthy as possible for everyone!