Do you have a tongue piercing?
In our modern society, it is becoming increasingly common to come across people who have pierced their tongue or other part of the oral cavity as an expression of body art or other personal statement. However, did you know that these can lead to a number of undesirable oral and systemic problems?
1st level problems
As with any puncture or incision in the body, oral piercings can lead to pain, swelling, and infection
2nd level problems
In some cases, individuals with piercings have reportedthe following repercussions of oral piercing, which represent an order of magnitude of importance above the 1st level problems.
- increased salivary flow
- gingival injury
- gingival recession
- damage to teeth
- damage to restorations
- damage to fixed porcelain prostheses
- interference with speech
- interference with mastication
- interference with deglutition
- scar-tissue formation
- development of metal hypersensitivities
- prolonged bleeding
There have also been reports of the jewelry becoming embedded in surrounding tissue, requiring surgical removal.
3rd level problems
The third and most dangerous potential effects of oral piercing is the incidence of secondary infection.
Case reports and research studies alert us to the fact that oral piercings play a role in and are directly linked with the following grave systemic conditions:
- bloodborne hepatitis (hepatitis B, C, D and G) transmission
- Ludwig’s angina (a rapidly spreading submandibular, sublingual and submental cellulitis)
- herpes simplex virus
It is often difficult to directly link morbidity and mortality reports (levels 2 and 3) to oral piercings, however the links to basic complications (level 1) is very well established.
Dental associations in various countries therefore have spoken out against the practice and recommend discouraging patients who request the procedure through education.