Tongue Piercings Cause Dental Problems

Face of young man with pierced tongueThey may be trendy, but having piercings in your tongue, lips, or cheek may cause more problems than the popular body modification is worth.  “Almost every teen wants to be unique and different,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix cosmetic dentistry office, “but parents shouldn’t go along with the idea without talking to their son or daughter’s dentist.  Serious consequences often follow tongue piercings, and it’s best to know before you go.”

Once the stainless steel oral jewelry is in place, it will come in contact with teeth, veneers, crowns, fillings, and braces. It’s not unusual for an electric current to flow through the connections between teeth and fillings. It feels like a mild electric shock. According to the American Dental Association, such shocks can grow into permanent sensitivity of the tooth pulp.

“Oral jewelry is harder than tooth enamel, so you can expect to crack a tooth, veneer or crown,” says Dr. Ford. “Playing with the jewelry by rapping it against your teeth causes damage over time,” she adds.

The American Dental Association also lists a number of problems associated with piercings including infection, interference with speech and chewing, “scar-tissue formation and development of metal hypersensitivities.”

Another problem arises when a patient with facial or tongue piercings visits the dentist and has to have an X-ray. Because metal shows up on X-rays, and may throw shadows or obscure real problems on the X-ray, most dentists will ask people wearing oral jewelry to remove it before undergoing X-rays.

Taking out and putting in the jewelry increases the chance of re-injury of the piercing site and raises the chance of infection. The mouth is filled with bacteria, and while most bacteria are harmless in the mouth, introducing them into the bloodstream can cause serious infections and possibly heart disease.

“If you want a healthy white smile, skip the tongue, lip and mouth piercings,” says Dr. Ford. “Healthy feels much better than trendy in the long run.”

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