One of every 5 piercing results in
If you are considering
piercing your tongue, lip or check consider these facts first:
This procedure can
present considerable dental and medical risks. The
dental dangers may be directly related to size of the piercing
and the length of time worn Procedure-related risks:
Infection: is a possibility with any
opening in skin or oral tissues. Since the mouth is teeming with
bacteria, oral piercing carries a high potential for infection at the site
of the piercing. Handling the jewelry once it has been placed
increases the chances of developing an infection.
Prolonged bleeding: can occur when
damage is done to the tongue's blood vessels.
Swelling and possible nerve damage:
Swelling is a common symptom experienced after oral piercing. Since
the tongue is in constant motion it can slow and complicate the healing
process. It has been reported that some swelling due to tongue
piercing have been serious enough to block the airway.
Blood borne disease transmission: of
hepatitis B, C, D and G, and syphilis. Tetanus and tuberculosis are also a risk.
The Institutes of Health has identified piercing as a possible
route for the transmission of hepatitis.
Blood poisoning, toxic shock,
septicemia, tetanus, AIDS, staph infections and sexually
transmissible disease can be associated with oral
Endocarditis: is a serious
inflammation of the heart valves or tissues. The wound created during
oral piercing provides an opportunity for oral bacteria to enter the
bloodstream, where it can travel to the heart. This presents a risk
for people who have cardiac abnormalities.
Injury to the gums: and also cause the
soft tissues to recede. A recent study showed that 50% of
people who had worn a long barbell stem piercing (longer than
1.59 cm) for more than two years had their gum tissue
pull away from the inside of their lower front teeth.
Ripped or torn tissue
due to metal jewelry constantly contacting
the the gum tissue.
Gum or check infection is
the most common problem because the mouth is full of bacteria
speaking and swallowing due to swelling or edema which
is caused by excess of interstitial fluid in this area.
Loss of sensation in tongue
Damage to teeth: The jewelry can
chip, scratch or crack teeth and restorations can be damaged if the jewelry strikes
them. Chipping of the back teeth occurred in nearly half of all
people who had worn the piercing for
more than four years.
Chipping or cracking
occurs when you accidentally bite
the jewelry. Fillings and
teeth can be damaged if the jewelry
strikes them repetitively in a
"wrecking ball" fashion.
Cracked tooth syndrome
can occur with a complete fracture of the back teeth .
or permanent drooling
Interference with normal oral function:
Oral jewelry can:
Stimulate excessive saliva production.
Impede the ability to pronounce words
Cause problems with chewing.
Cause problems with swallowing food.
Some metal alloys can cause allergic
Interference with oral health evaluation:
Jewelry in the mouth can block the transmission of X-rays so abnormalities
like cysts, abscesses or tumors may not be revealed.
Aspiration: Unfastened or loose
jewelry can be a choking hazard or be ingested causing injury to the
Jewelry can be ingested,
resulting in injury to digestive tract
Prolonged bleeding -
from piercing operators inadvertent puncturing of blood
vessels in tongue causing serious blood loss, blood clots or
The lack of training and
education of the person providing the piercing increase
the risk of a complication. Make sure to check to see if
they are a member of The Association of Professional Pierces.
National Institutes of
Health has identified piercing as possible route for
transmission of hepatitis.
Scar tissue formation
Obstruction to x-rays
from excessive us of postoperative care products such as
Listerine which contain phenol alcohol and hydrogen peroxide
which in the early stages of healing may kill the tissues.**
sterilization techniques and the use of gold jewelry can
reduce the risks of infection and metal allergy.
Piercing should be approached with extreme caution and avoided
in the tongue, cheek or lips.
Information about Oral Piercing:
The case of the "second tongue"
Body piercing is popular today in the United
States and other western societies. One common type of body
piercing is tongue piercing, which involves placing a
“barbell”-type stud through the tongue. But wearing a tongue
stud puts people at risk for chipped teeth, recessed gums, and
nerve damage, warns the Academy of General Dentistry .
However, most people don’t realize that
getting an oral piercing also places them at risk for
developing a fatal infection or, in some cases, a mini-tongue,
according to a report in the January/February 2006 issue of
In the report, a young woman’s pierced tongue
developed a large, round lump adjacent to the piercing. The
lump, which she called her “second tongue,” didn’t hurt, nor was
it infected, but it was growing. This mass was determined to be
a scar tissue formation. Improvement was noted after oral
hygiene was increased (frequent use of mouthwash and hydrogen
peroxide mouthwash) and the tongue stud was replaced with a
shorter shaft. Also Keep the wound clean. Make sure the bar
is short so food and bacteria won’t enter the siteReplace the
metal barbell heads with plastic ones. The number of adults
between ages 21 and 31 who have their tongue pierced continues
to increase despite the dangers.
Damage caused by piercing—-tooth fractures,
tooth chips. Pierces weakens the tooth. The damage is
almost always in the pre-molars, the middle teeth, almost
parallel to the piercing. The best way to prevent damage is
to not get your tongue pierced.
Hazards of tongue piercing:
• Infection due to unsterile
• Pierced blood vessel or artery.
• Development of scar tissue.
• Tooth fractures and chips. AGD 4/06
Assessment of the
alveolar bone close to tongue stud
One of the latest trends in ornamental body
piercing focuses on the oral cavity, with the most common
piercing site being the tongue. Oral health care
professionals are anecdotally reporting the incidence of
radiographically detectable alveolar bone abnormalities
surrounding the mandibular anterior teeth in patients who
wear tongue studs. With the use of convenience sampling,
periapical radiographs were taken of the mandibular
anterior teeth of individuals wearing tongue studs and
compared to the radiographs of individuals who had
never worn tongue studs (N = 46). Additionally, a self-report
questionnaire was used to gather demographic data on
participants and specific information related to their
These findings indicate that individuals wearing a tongue
stud for any length of time are at risk for developing
abnormalities in the alveolar bone surrounding the
mandibular anterior teeth.
Asessment of the Alveolar Bone Surrounding
the Mandibular Anterior Teeth of Individuals Wearing a
Tongue StudAuthor(s): Susan L
Dougherty RDH, MS ; Kristy Tervort-Bingham RDH, BS Source:
Journal of Dental Hygiene
Volume: 79 Number: 4 Page: 8 Publisher: American
Dental Hygienists' Association Abstract: 1/06
ASSOCIATION WITH GINGIVAL RECESSION
Oral piercing, typically involving the tongue
and/or the lip, has been associated with periodontal
complications. The purpose of this study was to compare the
prevalence of gingival recession on the buccal aspect of
mandibular central incisors in subjects with lower lip piercing
and in controls.
Methods: Twenty-nine young adults with lip piercing (mean age:
21.8; 15 females) and 29 without (mean age: 22.3; 15 females)
were recruited from the community and examined for gingival
recession on the buccal aspect of the mandibular central
There were no demographic (age, gender distribution) differences
between the 2 groups of subjects. Prevalence of recession among
subjects with lip piercing (41.4%) was significantly greater
than among controls (6.9%) (p=0.0022). The average recession
depth was more than double in subjects with piercing compared to
controls Length of time of wear was the only
significantlyassociated demographic variable.
Conclusions: These results indicate that lip
piercing is strongly associated with increased prevalence and
severity of gingival recession on the buccal aspect of
mandibular central incisor teeth. Increased time of wear is
associated with increased prevalence of recession.
K.I. BLAIR, M.P. CARR,
R.G. RASHID, and D.N. TATAKIS, Ohio State University, Columbus,
Supported by the Sections of Primary Care and Periodontology,
Lip Piercings 'Can Shrink
Researchers have found that having a lip
piercing is bad for the gums and can make them shrink back from
The longer people wear the piercing, the worse the recession
is,researchers from Ohio State University in found - in a
study of 58 young adults. In 2003 The British Dental Association
reported the same risk with tongue piercings in the BDJ. Oral
piercing - a trend growing in popularity - can cause
life-threatening infections and reactions.
The Ohio team said that people with lip piercings were far
more likely to have receding gums than those without piercings,
reports the BBC. When the dental researchers examined the
young people's mouths they found average recession depth was
more than double in those with piercings, compared with
those without piercings.
Dr Dimitris Tatakis and his team presented their findings at a
conference of the International & American Association for
Dental Research. Professor Jimmy Steele, from Newcastle
University's Dental School in
the UK, told the BBC that people who had, or were considering
getting a lip piercing should take heed of the findings.
`The metal of the lip stud is physically
rubbing over the gum at the neck of the tooth causing the gum to
recede. Once this has happened, you don't get the gum back and
it often becomes more difficult to clean and therefore even more
prone to gum disease in the future. The effect is quite
localised so it will only be one or two teeth
affected - but they are front teeth, so not ones you want to
He said it was only really a problem for long-term wearers and
that taking the stud or ring out at night time and making sure
the teeth were really clean would help reduce the risk of
ASSESSMENT OF THE ALVEOLAR BONE SURROUNDING
THE MANDIBULAR ANTERIOR
TEETH OF INDIVIDUALS WEARING A TONGUE STUD
.It is imperative to be aware of the increasing
occurrence of oral piercing and its health implications such as
infection, fractured teeth, damaged gingival tissue, increased
salivary flow, and negative affects on speech, mastication,
swallowing, and alveolar bone abnormalities surrounding the
mandibular anterior teeth associated with the wearing of a
The findings from this study indicated that
individuals wearing a tongue stud for any length of time are at
risk for development of alveolar bone abnormalities
surrounding the mandibular anterior teeth.
*Susan L. Dougherty, RDH, MS
Weber State University presented ADHA Annual Session 2004
A Fatal Fad?
Tongue studs cause more problems than chipped
These oral piercing
place you at risk for developing a fatal infection, such as
Ludwig's angina or endocarditis, according to a report in the
May/June 2004 issue of General Dentistry. This bacterial
infection of the floor of the mouth occurs after a tooth
infection, mouth injury, oral surgery and oral piercings.
After getting an oral piercing, the mouth has an open wound
which allow bacteria to travel through the bloodstream.
Bacteria then cause the floor of the mouth to rapidly swell,
which can block the airway or prevent the swallowing of saliva.
Endocarditis occurs when bacteria
travels into the bloodstream through the piercing hole and
infects the heart. Most body piercers are unlicensed and
not members of the medical profession. Because of this
health histories are not recorded or reviewed, emergency medical
kits are not available, antibiotics are not prescribed and
postoperative care is not available. Post operative care
can also help identify these serious infections before they
angina is a life threatening acute severe infection of the jaws
that causes swelling that can close off the airway. This
can be treated with an incision and drainage
Endocarditis is a disease caused by a
microorganism infecting the heart valves or endocardium.
The microorganism can center the blood stream through the
piercing wound. This can be treated with antibiotics.
Dentalnotes Summer pg 2 2004
teens warned about drooling
who get their lips or tongues pierced may end up
"drooling like a St Bernard" or speaking like a
drunk. The Dental Hygienists Association of Australia said
piercings could cause:
reduced taste sensation
Many people were also unaware
that smoking, drinking and oral sex should be avoided for
up to six weeks after an oral piercing because of an increased
risk of tissue damage and bacterial infections. "Biting
fingernails, putting your pencil in your mouth, kissing
anyone, sticking your tongue in anyone's mouth, or anywhere
else for that matter - oral sex is definitely out,"
according to AAP. March 2003
piercing plus heart defect spell trouble
People with heart-related abnormalities
such as this one are advised to take antibiotics whenever they
are having invasive procedures, such as surgery or dental
work. Dental work — and possibly body piercing — poses a
risk of infection to such individuals because bacteria in
the mouth can gain access to the bloodstream. Once inside
the body, the bacteria can take hold in the heart,
causing a potentially life-threatening infection. 2
months after his tongue was pierced, the man was hospitalized
with fever, chills and shortness of breath. Blood tests
revealed that the man's heart was infected with a type of
mouth bacteria known as H. aphrophilus. The stud of the
piercing also tested positive for the presence of the same
bacteria. The man received a 6-week course of antibiotics via
a catheter and recovered. Although he usually took antibiotics
before a trip to the dentist, the man did not take antibiotics
prior to the piercing.
SOURCE: Emerging Infectious Diseases
Researchers Find Tongue Piercing Could
Lead To Gum and Tooth
A new study found that extended wear
of tongue jewelry (barbell-type) could increase your chance of
gum recession and tooth chipping.
This study found gum recession in 35% of
subjects with pierced tongues for four or more years, and in
50% wearing long-stemmed barbells for two or more years.
During tongue movement, long-stem barbells
are more likely to reach and damage the gums than short
barbells which can lead to more serious dental/oral
Additionally, almost half of those wearing
either type of barbell for four or more years had chipped
teeth. The prevalence of tooth chipping was greater in
those wearing short- stemmed barbells (1/4 inch - 5/8 inch)
for four or more years because tooth chipping was a result of
habitual biting of the barbell.
Mouth piercing and smoking
combined could cause a mouthful of trouble because smokers
Combine these problems with gum recession
from tongue piercing and you are on your way to having a
serious infection called gum disease.
Anyone with a pierced mouth should receive a
thorough oral examination of
their gums and teeth to identify problem areas. Taking
precautions now will increase your chance of keeping your
teeth for a lifetime.
Journal of Periodontology, March 2002
Oral Piercing in Athletes
Intraoral piercing and tongue jewelry
place athletes at greater risk for serious medical and dental
consequences that are confounded when the athlete attempts
to compete while wearing a mouthguard with the tongue jewelry in
All body jewelry should be removed during
Oral piercing in athletes: Implications
for general dentists Suzann P. McGeary, RDH, DDS, Deborah
Studen-Pavlovich, DMD, Dennis N.Ranalli, DDS, MDS General
Dentistry 2002, March
From Pierced Tongue to Infected Brain
Doctors at Yale believe that a brain
abscess in a woman in her 20's
was caused by an infection she suffered after having her
Dr. Richard Martinello stated that the woman
first reported that her tongue
became swollen and produced a sour taste a few days after it
was pierced and a stud put in place.
About a month later she began suffering from
headaches, fever and
vomiting and had trouble with her balance. A CAT scan
performed in a
local hospital revealed a brain abnormality in the cerebellum,
which is associated with coordination. Tests
showed the presence of four types of bacteria commonly found
in the mouth. After six weeks of antibiotics, the
woman made a full recovery. She was reported to be
against oral piercing at the time this article was written.
December 25, 2001 - JOHN O'NEIL, Wed, 26
Dec 2001 23:49:42 -0000
Latest Fashion Craze....It seems today's
youth don't find it rebellious enough to have piercings in the
ears, nose, eyebrows and tongue. The latest growing trend is
to have the tongue split in two, creating a serpent-like
forked tongue or tongue splitting, reports the Boston Globe. In the US, some
states are considering outlawing the practice, saying it is
nothing short of mutilation. Often this operations
feels like" it is being done with a scalpel heated by a
blowtorch." Often no anesthetic is used. It can cost 500
dollars. A dentist in Illinois, David Miller, has written a
bill requiring that tongue-splitting be done by a doctor or
dentist, and then only for medical reasons. The bill was
passed in the Illinois House and is awaiting a vote in the
Source: American Dental Association, Academy of General
Dentistry, Health Center.
JW, Lovegrove J, Murray C
Elective lip piercing and
gingival recession: case
report Oral Health
Adverse Effects of Oral
Assisting, Sept 2005 pg
February 06, 2008