Oral Piercings: The Hidden Risks to Your Dental Health

dental CharlottesvilleDo you have a lip ring, a tongue piercing, or dermal modification? While these piercings are considered fashionable to many and a harmless form of self-expression, oral piercings can affect dental structures in a negative way. The metal construction of rings and balled piercings can damage teeth, gums, and restorations, and patients with piercings are often more susceptible to infections than those who do not have piercings. Following are some common ways that piercings can affect dental health.

Piercings Can Damage Soft and Hard Oral Structures

Piercings are normally metal or made from other hard materials. Lip and tongue piercings can come into contact with teeth. When teeth come into contact with hard objects, they can become damaged. For instance, clicking a tongue piercing against your teeth can lead to enamel damage and tooth fracturing. Oral piercings scraping against the gums or the linings of cheeks can cause irritation, and irritated tissue is prone to infection.

Dermal modifications along with lip, cheek, and tongue piercings can introduce the mouth to more bacteria than normal. In fact, if piercings and the pierced site is not kept clean, patients can develop chronic infections that could be life threatening. The mouth is already home to millions of bacteria (since it is a moist, warm environment) so having a piercing is an unnecessary threat.

Lastly, piercings can get in the way of dental examinations—particularly X-rays. This could prevent your dentist or oral surgeon from detecting oral cancer, tooth decay, and other common ailments.

Health Tips for those with Oral Piercings

If you already have a facial or oral piercing, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene. This means that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day (preferably after meals) and floss every day. Additionally, you should make sure that all piercings are tightly attached so that they do not come off. The American Dental Association also recommends that those with piercings avoid clicking or tapping their piercings against their teeth and gums.