Tattoos and body piercings have been a very popular trend for some time and look to continue indefinitely. While modifying your body with ink or holes is a form of self expression, there are some body parts that are not conducive to do-it-yourself surgery or jewelry. One of these is the mouth.
The American Dental Association does not recommend any type of oral piercing. This is because the mouth is a crucial organ for both respiration and digestion. It’s also full of bacteria at all times. Most people know someone whose ear piercing has gotten infected, either right after it was pierced or later on. An ear piercing is largely exterior, though. It’s exposed to air, can be easily cleaned, and will not have an effect on any critical bodily functions. If a piercing in the mouth gets infected and goes septic, however, it’s much, much more difficult to clean, sterilize, and heal it. This is especially true of a tongue piercing.
We use our tongues in a number of ways – to eat, to swallow, to speak, and to sing. The tongue is an organ rich in blood supply, and an injury can result in a large loss of blood in a short period of time. Any drainage or ooze a tongue wound produces will be absorbed into your body either through the bloodstream directly or via the digestive system after it’s swallowed. Some people have contracted endocarditis or hepatitis as a result of their oral piercings. Some tongue piercings have resulted in loss of feeling in the tongue or loss of taste.
Another concern is swelling. An infected tongue or uvula piercing, in particular, could lead to airway blockage or choking if the jewelry were to come loose. Anything metal moving about in the mouth could also result in teeth chipping or cracking, fillings coming loose, injured gums, or, eventually, tooth loss.
The ADA and your local dentist will also warn you about the dangers of tongue splitting or any other type of amateur mouth surgery. Again, the possibility of pain, swelling, infection, and the risk of further disease cannot be overstated. The short term satisfaction of achieving a certain look will not match the longer term pain and loss of function that results from mutilating one of your organs. If any of your friends or acquaintances is thinking about getting an oral piercing or a split tongue, have them peruse Google first to see examples of piercings gone wrong.
If you have an oral piercing and are experiencing swelling, pain, fever, chills, shaking, or a red-streaked appearance around the source of the piercing, seek medical attention immediately. For information about caring for a mouth piercing your already have, as your dentist during your next scheduled visit.