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Stay Sharp About Oral Piercings

A big trend among teens and young adults that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon is oral piercings. From lip rings to tongue studs, there are many different ways to express yourself through jewelry, but while kids may think it looks cool, it can be very bad for their oral health. Here’s what you should know if your child wants an oral piercing.

Oral Piercing Risks

Oral piercings, as well as oral jewelry itself, can cause many problems. The initial wound from the piercing can become easily infected, allowing bacteria into the rest of the mouth. Some people believe once the piercing has healed they are "in the clear," so to speak, when it comes to the piercing, but that’s simply not true. Oral piercings can elevate your risk of contracting hepatitis B and C, HSV-1, endocarditis, and gum disease. Not only that, but the piercing can also alter your sense of taste and cause permanent numbness, speech impediment, excess saliva and drooling, and even receding gums.

Oral Jewelry Risks

While the oral piercing can cause more than its fair share of problems, don’t forget the oral jewelry. The jewelry itself can cause a lot of damage to the mouth, teeth and tongue, too. Oral rings like barbells can hit against the teeth either while speaking or chewing (or just as a matter of habit). This increases your risk of chipping, cracking or breaking the teeth. Worse yet, new studies have found that stainless-steel tongue barbells can increase your risk of cavities because they attract oral biofilm.

Caring for Piercings

If your teen is ready to accept the risks and responsibilities of wearing an oral piercing, make sure he or she follows these care guidelines. They will help keep the risk of infection low and the damage to the teeth and gums at a minimum.

Remove and clean tongue piercings daily once the healing period is complete. Scrub the removed jewelry with toothpaste and rinse well. Be sure to brush teeth, floss and rinse well while the jewelry is out of the mouth.
If you or your child has a lip ring, mouthwash is essential, but avoid washes that contain alcohol or antibacterial properties - they can be too drying and can damage the lip and cheek tissue.

If you have any further questions or concerns about oral piercings or any other oral health topics, please contact Dr. Simpson’s office at 910-239-7164.

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