Dental Library- Tongue Piercing
As with any new fashion trend, young people rush to try it, and body piercing is no exception. But when young people pierce their tongues and lips they are risking numerous dental problems.
Tongue piercing involves punching a hole in the tongue and placing a decorative metal stud in the hole. Due to the numerous nerve endings in the tongue, piercing can often result in severe swelling and pain, making eating and talking very difficult, not to mention that a severely swollen tongue can block a person's airway. Nerve damage can lead to tongue that can have constant pain, constant tingling (parasthesia) or a tongue that has no feeling (anesthesia). This lack of nerve input to the brain can cause difficulty in swallowing, chewing, tasting (since taste buds are located on the tongue surface) and speaking. It also can cause the tongue to be bitten very frequently and makes it difficult to realize when the tongue is swollen and infected.
Infection is also a real danger with tongue piercing. The mouth has a tremendous number of different types of bacteria that reside in it all or most of which can cause a very nasty infection in any open wound. Good oral hygiene alone cannot insure an infection free tongue piercing and alcohol containing mouth washes will cause burning and irritation of a wound. Allergic reactions may occur if the stud is not pure metal. Bleeding, blood poisoning and blood clots are other potential concerns since the tongue is a highly vascular muscle. There are many large and medium size arteries and veins in the tongue any of which will cause severe bleeding complications if severed. Between the naturally high bacterial load in the mouth and the fact that the tongue is constantly moving, healing from tongue piercing is slow, sometimes up to a month.
Tongue and lip piercing also affect teeth and gums. Teeth can become cracked and or chipped from the metal stud or barbell moving around inside the mouth. This can cause the teeth to become very sensitive by exposing their nerves. The teeth will then require very extensive and expensive treatment such as root canal therapy, posts and crowns. Teeth that fracture down the root will actually need to be extracted and then replaced by implants or fixed bridges, the most extensive and expensive restorative treatment dentistry has to offer. Gum tissue may also be damaged by continuous contact with the metal stud. This can lead to gum treatment and even gum surgeries.
Extra dental care needs to be taken with tongue piercing. When brushing your teeth be sure to also brush your tongue. The barbell should be removed daily and thoroughly cleaned, although not with jewelry cleaner, warm water and soap will work fine. The hole in the tongue should also be rinsed with a small stream of water. As previously mentioned avoid alcohol-containing mouthwashes that will cause stinging and burning. The best way to avoid these problems is to not get tongue piercing in the first place and if you do remove the bar as soon as possible and allow the tongue to heal.