Piercings are a common form of self-expression. Many people have ear piercings, a navel piercing or an eyebrow ring. Oral piercings – ones in the lip, tongue or cheek – are another popular choice. While all piercings have some form of risk associated with them, oral piercings have several risks, and some complications may require an oral surgeon.
The mouth is full of bacteria. Good oral hygiene can help to keep the amount down, getting rid of plaque and leftover food particles that can attract and keep bacteria, but many still linger, and those bacteria can lead to several complications.
• The piercing can click against your teeth and gums, leading to chips on your teeth and gum recession.
• Increased saliva flow, which can lead to drooling.
• Loss of taste or sensation if a nerve is nicked.
• Difficulty at the dentist’s office. X-rays and some procedures become more complicated.
• Tongue swelling. In some cases, your tongue may swell so much that your airway becomes blocked, making it difficult to breathe.
• Infection, characterized by redness, swelling and discharge. Infection is caused by the large amounts of bacteria in the mouth, and the chances are increased by touching the piercing, or consuming unsanitary foods.
When an infection of a tongue piercing becomes severe, your tongue can swell up to such a size that it affects your ability to breathe, and may even cut off the airway all together. Swelling may make it difficult, if not impossible, to remove any oral jewelry. In this instance, you may require the help of an oral surgeon to carefully remove it without causing further damage. Antibiotics may also be prescribed in order to fight any remaining infection that could otherwise spread throughout the rest of the body.
CARE OF PIERCINGS
If you make the decision to get an oral piercing, it is important to take care of it.
• Rinse your mouth with a salt water solution or antimicrobial mouthwash after every meal.
• Avoid hot, spicy and acidic foods while you heal. These can cause irritation.
• Continue a regular oral hygiene routine. Brush at least twice a day, floss regularly and use mouthwash. You should also make certain to visit your dentist for regular exams and cleanings.
Oral piercings are a form of self-expression, but you should think carefully before committing to one. If you do decide to get one, take care of it to prevent infection or other complications. Contact our office right away at the first sign of any problems.