The Dangers of Oral Piercings, Part 1 of 2

The Dangers of Oral Piercings, Part 1 of 2


Does your child have oral piercings in the lip or tongue? If so, you need to know the potential for damage to gums and teeth, as well as the possibilities for serious infections. If your child also has orthodontic appliances, the risks are increased.


The Popularity of Oral Piercings reports that approximately 14% of Americans have a piercing at a location other than the earlobe, with 13% to 29% of those piercings reportedly in the tongue or lip. Interestingly, the 13% figure applies to females and the 29% to males. While no statistics were found specifically for teens, it stands to reason that both pre-teens and teenagers have seized upon this method of self-expression. Of interest is the fact that, because these piercings are removable, it’s possible for an adolescent to have oral piercings that the parents are not aware of. It’s easy enough to remove them when at home and insert them at school.


The Health Risks of Oral Piercings

Although they may seem harmless to your child, severe consequences can result from lip and tongue rings, the most serious of which is infection. There are millions of bacteria swimming throughout the oral cavity, present 24 hours a day. Add to that the additional germs that come into the mouth as a result of handling the jewelry itself. Herpes, hepatitis and even HIV are known to be transmittable via a tongue ring.


Nerve Damage and Tongue Rings

While it’s normal for an individual after a tongue piercing to experience numbness, which can last from a few hours to a few days, the act of piercing itself can result in nerve damage. One consequence of nerve damage in the tongue is a decreased ability in taste perception.


Oral Jewelry Can Cause Dental Damage

As the lip and tongue jewelry clack against the teeth, it can chip them. Among those with tongue piercings, it’s common for them to “play” with the jewelry by moving it around the mouth or clicking it against the teeth. This can result in scratched or chipped teeth and/or damage to sealants and fillings.


Oral Piercings and Halitosis

Oral jewelry can harbor food particles, which can lead to bad breath due to bacterial growth. Tip:  If your child has oral piercings, this may be the one reason that he or she will remove and clean the jewelry every night!


Orthodontic Appliances Increase the Risk of Damage from Oral Piercings

All of the above problems exist plus the added potential to damage the appliance itself. Brackets can be broken, the jewelry can get caught in the braces, and the wires can be dislodged or bent, leading to a decrease in the appliance’s effectiveness.


Our NYC pediatric dental practice is devoted to giving your child the best chance at exceptional dental health. Don’t hesitate to call us at 212.267.0029 if you have any concerns!


Be sure to read Part 2 of this topic, posted under February, 2018 on our blog page.