The Risks of Oral Piercings for Teens

Posted Dec 23rd, 2015 in Helpful Tips for Parents, Pediatric Dentistry

The Risks of Oral Piercings for Teens

Although tongue and lip piercings are quite popular among teenagers and young adults, there are many oral health risks associated with piercings that can cause a lot of harm, both in the short and long term.


Sometimes, in the quest to establish individuality and personal agency, teenagers want to try new things that test limits and make them stand out in the crowd. This can include body modification like oral (lip and tongue) piercings.

If you're the parent of a teen, you’re most likely aware that pushing back when they set their minds on something can only make them more adamant.

If your teen wants to get an oral piercing, however, it’s important that you both understand that there are numerous potential health risks involved in  this serious choice.

My teenager wants to get his tongue or lip pierced. Is this safe?

At Smile Town Langley, as dental professionals, we advise against oral piercings because of all the risk associated with them.

Some of the risks involved in tongue & lip piercings include

  • Infection - Since there lots of bacteria in the mouth, the wound presented by an oral piercings is at a much higher risk of infection than many other types of piercings, particularly when combined with the additional bacteria that is introduced by handling the jewelry.
  • Disease Transmission - Oral piercings present a risk for the transmission of certain diseases, such as herpes simplex virus, as well as hepatitis B & C.
  • Chipped Tooth Enamel - Sometimes, teeth come into contact with mouth jewelry, and this can cause them to chip or crack. The result is often expensive dental work.
  • Nerve Damage - if a nerve is damaged during piercing, it can result in numbness, loss of sensation, and difficulty moving the pierced area. Additionally, the tongue can swell after the piercing severely enough to block the airway and impede breathing.
  • Endocarditis - the wound introduced by an oral piercing can allow bacteria from the mouth will enter the bloodstream, leading to the development of endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart and/or its valves.
  • Difficulties with Daily Oral Function - Tongue piercing can make it difficult to chew and swallow food, and to speak clearly. The jewelry can cause excessive saliva production, which may cause temporary or permanent drooling.
  • Increased Risk of Gum Disease - People with oral piercings, particularly long-stem tongue jewelry, can be at a greater risk of gum disease. The jewelry can come into contact with the gums, which can cause injury and gum tissue recession.

If my teen already has an oral piercing, or insists on getting one, how can we keep it healthy and safe?

If your teen decides to get a piercing despite of the above objections, you can lessen the risks by following these steps:

  • Discuss all the associated risks with your teen beforehand, and make sure he or she understands precisely what is involved in caring for an oral piercing.
  • Make sure the establishment where the piercing procedure is performed has strict cleanliness and sanitation regulations in place, and that the staff is experienced and well trained. Do your research ahead of time.
  • Regular dental checkups and cleanings, in combination with at home oral hygiene routines, are even more important for people with oral piercings. Making sure your teen stays on top of oral care will lessen the chance of problems occurring with his or her piercing.

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