Although oral piercings are less common compared to ear and nose piercings, over the years, oral piercings have become very popular among teenagers and even adults. Although many people think that they look very stylish, getting oral piercings can be scary for most and can lead to health issues in the long run if not cared for and maintained properly. Apart from being very painful, oral piercings can lead to teeth and gum damage and cause complications as listed below.

Common Oral Piercing Complications

Oral piercings require special care and cleaning compared to other type of piercings as they’re in the mouth.  A great amount of cleanliness and hygiene is required not only when the piercing is new, but also later on. It is also important to note that oral piercings cannot be taken out easily like an ear or nose piercing. The process of taking oral piercings off could be very painful and difficult, while leading to a formation of a permanent hole. Following are some of the oral piercing complications that our dentists observe:

  • Tooth Cracking & Breakage
    Some type of oral piercings are done closer to the gum tissue and can damage the root of the tooth. After a period of a few months or years, gums can start to recede over your teeth. The cracking and breaking of teeth can expose the nerves of the teeth. As piercings are usually metallic, there is a high chance of breakage of teeth. Fillings and root canals may be needed in order to fix the breakage.
  • Oral Infections
    Bacteria typically resides in the mouth and when piercings are located in the mouth, there is a high risk of infections as the piercings are exposed to oral bacteria. Infections such as endocarditis and other serious infections can occur as a result of such bacteria. Many of us have unknown cavities and oral piercings can multiply the risk of getting more infections.
  • Trauma to Gums
    Piercings located closer to jaws and gums or lip piercings can lead to infections as these type of piercings can easily lead to oral wounds.
  • Reaction to Metals
    Mouth piercings are many times made up of nickel and a few other metals. Many people are not aware that they could be allergic to either nickel or any of the other metals and therefore, could end up with rash and/or injuries in the mouth after getting the piercing. This could require urgent medical treatment.
  • Accidental Piercing Swallowing
    It is quite easy to unknowingly swallow the end of barbell of the piercing. Most piercings specialists and studios say that these parts or piercings themselves, can pass through stools easily and that there is no need to get panicked, but they do not educate clients on complications or intestinal injuries and obstructions resulting due to swallowing of piercings and their parts.
  • Swollen Tongue or Mouth
    The nerves in the tongue can get easily damaged because of tongue bolts and piercings. People who have a tendency get swellings due to piercings can easily get swollen up in their mouth, jaws and tongue. Too much swelling can cause extreme conditions such as blockage of airways and breathlessness.
  • Splitting of Tongue
    Depending on how an individuals body responds to tongue piercings, some people end up getting a split or bifid tongue that looks like the tongue of a snake. In these cases, the tongue slowly starts splitting due to the piercing. Oral surgery may be required in order to treat this condition.
  • Difficult to Talk and Chew
    It can become extremely difficult to speak and talk as result of having a piercing. This encourages use of the wrong muscles to ease the ability to speak and chew. If one continues to use wrong muscles, it can result into having long term oral problems involving jaws and oral muscles.

Can You Take off an Oral Piercing?

It is not easy to just take your oral piercing off, unlike the other kind of piercings. It is a good idea to get the oral piercing removed from your dentist if you have not done it before. Usually, you should feel normal, after a few days or weeks after taking off the piercing. If you got your piercing removed due to oral issues, your dentist will perform an examination to check if everything looks good and whether there is any dental or gum damage. Most of the times, the piercing hole should close on its own but for some, it may result into a permanent hole. A permanent hole can pose an infection risk. This hole can be closed by performing a minor surgical procedure using local anesthesia. As an oral piercing is complicated compared to other piercings, it necessary to consider risks and issues that can come up as as a result of getting an oral piercing.

If you get an oral piercing, it is important to maintain a regular cleanliness and hygiene routine that includes brushing, flossing and mouth wash using just salt water. Also, if you notice that there is something unusual with your mouth, tongue or if your piercing feels painful even after a few weeks have passed, make sure you show it to your dentist. Lastly, if you’re not sure if you should get an oral or tongue piercing, make sure you discuss it with your dentist. A dentist will always give you a medically better picture than a piercing studio specialist.