How many of you have tongue or lip piercings, or know someone with one?
There are many issues that can arise from these types of piercings, so let’s start at the beginning. Much like anywhere else on the body a new piercing in the oral cavity is effectively an open wound, making it prone to infections and healing problems. They can cause initial swelling, bleeding and bruising that may lead to some patients halting their daily oral hygiene rituals or, at best, be unable to carry them out fully. Although reputable body piercers will provide detailed aftercare advice the onus is on us, the individual, to ensure the new addition is kept clean, but this will always vary from one person to the next. Unlike other areas of the body oral piercings come into contact with food and drink which can cause further issues during healing. If the area is not cleaned properly after eating this can lead to a higher risk or infection.
Sometimes, with prolonged wear, oral piercings can cause damage to surrounding gum tissue and teeth through contact and friction. Some wearers may develop habits of running their tongue piercings along their teeth which over time can cause abrasion. Many people do not even realise they have developed a habit of playing or clicking with an oral piercing. Frequently doing this can also cause gum recession that can subsequently lead to problems like sensitivity and can also cause damage to existing fillings.
For those who have taken the plunge already and have some form of oral piercing the best thing to do is to keep your oral health at a high standard. You can keep an eye on your teeth and gums for signs of wear that may be related to the piercing. Check the tightness of your piercing periodically (with clean hands) as this can help prevent swallowing or choking if the piercing becomes dislodged.
Maintaining a good oral health regime is essential for everyone, but an oral piercing will mean extra care and attention is needed. If you notice your oral health has slipped due to pain or swelling from a new piercing, or you are avoiding cleaning certain areas because you don’t want to dislodge an existing one, please seek advice from your dentist.
Of course the best option is to consider removing the mouth piercing before it causes a problem. Don’t pierce on a whim. The piercing will be added responsibility to your life, requiring constant attention and upkeep.
Joanne Anderson & Emma Fraser, your dental nurses.