There are different forms of self-expression that an individual may find appealing. One art of expression is body piercings. The record number of body piercings according to the Guiness World Records is 4,225. The lady holding this record is constantly adding jewelry to enhance her appearance. So what about piercing the mouth? The tongue, lips, or even splitting the tongue.
Piercing the tongue carries some risks. The tongue is rich in blood vessels and has a special nerve that travels through, called the lingual nerve. It can become swollen in the process of piercing. A swollen tongue can block the airway, leading to breathing problems. Or there is a risk of some form of nerve damage. Nerve damage affects taste or movement in the mouth. The tongue also harbors natural microflora (bacteria) that can lead to an infection as a complication of piercing it.
The lip and tongue can both hold jewelry of different sizes! The problem is if these accessories crack or break teeth, fillings, or crowns around them. Chipped teeth can cause pain and necessitate root canal treatment or dental extractions. If you will move forward with piercing the oral region of your face, choose a piece of jewelry that is rather small in size and does not carry as high a risk to damaging the teeth.
The pressure or pull of a piercing can affect gum tissue and cause an effect known as gingival recession where the gum tissue protecting the tooth reduces. Gum recession leads to increased sensitivity and pain. 26 percent of those who have a lip piercing and 37-46% of individuals with a pierced tongue fracture their teeth. The take home message here is, the chances of having a broken tooth can be quite high if the tongue is pierced.
There are some metals that occasionally trigger an allergic reaction. Oral piercing with certain types of jewelry can lead to an allergic response. Using surgical grade stainless steel reduces the risk of this complications. In some cases, the jewelry becomes dislodged or embedded in oral tissue and requires surgical removal. Swallowing such jewelry is another risk to consider. If you will get an oral piercing, remove it before eating to avoid swallowing it.
Also rinse frequently with an antibacterial mouthwash to avoid the risk of an infection. In summary, we discourage any oral piercing. But if you must have an oral piercing, schedule a dental consultation to discuss specific precautionary steps that you must take.