If you are thinking of having your tongue or lower lip pierced (the two most popular types of oral piercing), it is important to realize that this is not a routine procedure.
The risks involved in oral piercings are more serious than those associated with piercings of other parts of the body, primarily because the mouth:
- holds significant amounts of different bacteria
- is a warm, moist environment, making it a breeding ground for infections
- contains several major blood vessels and nerves
- is lined by a mucous membrane that is easily damaged
Possible oral health consequences
- Teeth can wear prematurely due to friction from the jewellery
- Repetitive impacts owing to chewing or playing sports can cause teeth to crack or break, leading to serious deterioration, loss of vitality and, eventually, loss of the tooth.
- Gums can be irritated and bleed.
- Gum recession may occur. In extreme cases, a gum graft may be necessary.
- Speech problems can develop.
- A tongue nerve may be damaged, which could lead to paraesthesia, a sensation akin to the feeling of being partially anesthetized.
Possible overall health consequences
- If it is not done with sterilized or disposable materials, piercing can lead to local or systemic infections such as tetanus, HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
- Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to the metal.
- The scientific literature reports rare but extreme cases in which serious infections are carried by the blood to the heart or brain.
The Ordre des dentistes du Québec advises against oral piercing because of the many risks it poses for your mouth and your overall health.
If you are still determined to go through with the procedure, read the Department of Health and Social Services (MSSS) publication entitled Tattoos and Piercing… Protecting yourself from AIDS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. You can download it from the Publications section of the MSSS website.