The Risks Of Oral Piercings

Facial decorations are all the rage with teenagers, but could cause damage to your teeth and gums!

Decorating the face has been common across cultures and ages. For many years in the UK, this was largely limited to the use of lipstick and earrings. More recently though, there has been a trend to perhaps more extreme methods and it is not unusual to see tattoos on the face and neck as well as ‘stretched’ ear lobes and facial and oral piercings.

Everybody has different tastes of course, although there are potential social implications to having facial tattoos. It is with the relatively common trend of oral piercings though, that we, as family dentists, are most immediately concerned with.

Aside from any pain or discomfort associated with having the piercing, and any subsequent soreness, oral piercings can have a negative effect on your teeth and gums in a number of different ways. Dr Melisha Govender, principal dentist at The Lodge Dental Suite, tells us why below.

Chipped and cracked teeth

Piercings are nearly always made from metal, or another hard material. It should come as no surprise then that the constant contact between piercing and teeth can cause chipping or cracking of the tooth enamel. Over time, this will not only weaken the teeth but may lead to decay or even root canal infections as the enamel no longer offers the protection that healthy and intact enamel would.

Infections

In addition to any localised soreness that may occur following an oral piercing being placed, infections are a real risk, especially if you don’t take care to keep both piercing and oral cavity clean. This may cause not only swelling and general soreness in the area of the piercing, but, it is thought, may also increase the risk of gum diseases; the dangers of which we have covered in previous blogs such as this one. Potentially, there is also an additional risk of blood-borne diseases such as certain types of hepatitis which could, potentially at least, prove to be serious.

Sporting injuries

If you play sports and have your lips or tongue pierced, there is an obvious additional danger of injuries. Ripped lips and torn tongues are a real possibility, as is the increased likelihood of damaged or even knocked out teeth. Although our Cheshunt patients can have treatment such as dental implants to replace lost teeth, it is obviously far better to keep your own natural healthy teeth wherever possible. If you do have any oral piercings, do make sure to remove them before playing any sports.

Dental braces

Teenagers especially may need to have braces to straighten any teeth that are crooked or uneven. Unless, perhaps, you are using a product like Clear Aligner invisible braces, there are risks to having oral piercings whilst wearing orthodontics. Not only can orthodontics be damaged by piercings, but, occasionally a piercing may become trapped in the wiring of the brace, causing it to be pulled away. This can cause significant bleeding and discomfort and may even require medical attention.

Fillings

As well as potentially chipping your teeth, metal piercings can cause fillings to crack or break away. If a filling comes out because of this, you will obviously notice it and likely make an appointment at The Lodge Dental Suite to have it refilled. A smaller cracked or chipped filling though may go undetected until your next general check up, allowing bacteria to enter the tooth in the meantime, and leading to further decay.

Diastemas

As most people that have a tongue piercing never, or rarely,  remove them, this can lead to a constant pressure being applied to the top two front teeth. Over time, this may cause the teeth to move, creating a gap between them. This is known as a diastema. Whilst some people actually like the appearance of this, it can also cause other teeth to start to move too, and may result in generally crooked teeth.

It is not for us to say whether people should have facial piercings or not as this is a matter of personal choice. But it is important that you are aware of the risks though. If you do decide to have them, it is essential that you make sure that your mouth stays in the best health possible. As well as your regular check ups with one of our dentists, we recommend that you see the hygienist to help with oral care maintenance and minimise the risk of infections. Do also make sure to keep your piercing clean and try to avoid ‘playing’ with it too much in order to keep contact with your teeth to a minimum. Unfortunately, this may also happen whilst you sleep, so may be partially unavoidable.

To book appointments to see a dentist or hygienist at our Cheshunt practice, please call us on 01992 643 388.