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What are oral piercings?

Oral or mouth piercings are small holes or piercings that are located in the lip, cheek or tongue. These piercings are made in order for jewelry to be attached to them. While oral piercings may be another way to showcase your style, they can be damaging to your mouth and even dangerous in some cases.

Oral piercing risks

The mouth contains many different types of bacteria, which may lead to increased infection and swelling in the presence of mouth piercings. The tongue may become so swollen, that it can cause difficulty breathing and even block your airway. These type of infections can be life threatening if treatment is not sought immediately. Heart valve damage may also occur in certain with certain heart diseases.


Oral jewelry can lead to damage to the gums, teeth and dental fillings. Some people have a habit of playing with their piercing or biting the piercing. This will lead to injury of the gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. It will also lead to teeth that are scratched, sheared, cracked or fractured. Piercings can also cause damage to dental fillings if there is repeated contact with the oral jewelry.

Jewelry that breaks off in the mouth can also quickly become a choking hazard. Broken jewelry can also lead to fracturing or broken teeth if the broken portion is bit while chewing or talking.

Some people may also experience allergies to the metals used for the oral jewelry.

Nerve damage is another potential risk when it comes to having an oral piercing. Some patients may experience a numb tongue due to nerve damage that is caused by piercing the tongue. In some cases, this numbness can be permanent. This type of nerve damage can affect your taste and how you move your tongue. Tongue piercings may also result in excessive drooling.


Oral piercing tips

If you currently have an oral piercing and do not want to remove it, follow these tips to help keep your mouth healthy.

  • Contact your dentist or doctor at the first sign of infection. Look for pain, swelling, fever and chills.
  • Rinse your mouth after every meal to keep the area free of food debris.
  • Avoid contact between the oral jewelry and your teeth.
  • Ensure that the jewelry is tight and not at risk of becoming loose or dislodged.

The best course of action is to remove the oral jewelry before an issue or dental problem begins. If you are thinking of getting oral jewelry, consider the advantages and disadvantages first, and talk to your dentist or dental professional for more information.

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