Tongue and Lip Piercings

July 31, 2008

Well it’s been quite a while since I have written – apolgies for being too busy on the coal face.  Just thought I would show a couple of pictures of damage occuring from oral piercing.  I have no judgment either way on whether it is attractive or sexy.  Here are some basic facts that people with piercings should be aware of before proceeding.

Any piercing has a risk of infection – the tongue is one of the most blood filled muscles of the body and and infection in the tongue can be life threatening – in fact a death has happened before.  This risk is not great, but as a dentist I am always very cautious about any damage to the tongue – so it intrigues me to see people without medical training skewering such a delicate area.

Make sure the final tongue piercing bar is not too long – you are likely to crack cusps of your back molars by mistake, or even split and lose a tooth (see my post on cracked teeth for a photo).  People also play with piercings and habitually put them between their teeth.  Your teeth versus metal piercings is not a fair match – see the neat wear and grooves on these next 2 patients – both of them can close their teeth completely around the piercing.


Finally – teeth are prone to calculus (hard scale) building up on the teeth.  This causes the gums to receed and teeth to fall out in old age.  The calculus also builds up on the piercing eventually causing a large hole and the piercing falls out – the hole doesn’t heal.  The lip piercing also strips away the gum and bone attachment to the bottom front teeth making them likely to fall out early.

I have seen piercings last without problems, and they are a matter of taste – but be aware of the risks.  It does make me smile that my most nervous patients that are frightened of needles are the most likely to come back with a tongue piercing – such is life 🙂