Tongue Piercing Safety

Tongue and lip piercings seem to be getting popular these days, not with just teenagers, but some adults too. Despite its increasing popularity, it is important to know about piercings in and around the mouth. They can be discouraging to some, but they are key to maintaining your teenager's health.

1. Infections ... the installation of mouth jewelry and the somewhat open wound after it is put in are a real attraction for the bacteria that is already present in the mouth to create an infection in the opening.
2. Allergic reactions ... people are allergic to different metals and may not even know it, so developing a contact dermatitis would be a really unpleasant thing for someone who just got a tongue stud0
3. Problems chewing and swallowing ... a tongue stud or lip ring that causes swelling and pain can create serious problems that affect chewing, swallowing, toothbrushing, even talking
4. Tooth damage ... tongue jewelry can damage the teeth it's a fact. A study reported in one dental journal indicates that 47% of people wearing barbell tongue jewelry for 4 or more years had at least one chipped tooth
5. Nerve damage ... nerves can be damaged when the tongue or lip are pierced, which can cause loss of sensation or numbness, among other things

If the decision is made to go forward with a tongue or lip piercing, here are some tips for keeping it safe.

1. Check with friends of your teenager whom you can trust and who have had incident-free experiences with having their tongue, lips or cheeks pierced find out where they had it done.

2. Check out the piercing salon before it is done. Look for cleanliness and sterility. Check to see if they use disposable gloves and have a hospital-grade autoclave to sterilize the instruments, or use disposable instruments.

3. Ask if all technicians have been vaccinated against Hepatitis B. It is a real risk and you don't want your teenager to be touched by anyone who hasn't.

4. Get a look at the health certificate. If the salon doesn't have one, pick another because no one is watching over this situation to make sure hygene and safety protocols are being followed.

5. Check the packaging on all the jewelry to see if they are kept in sterilized packages. Ask about the needles and other equipment as well.

So, if your teenager comes home to show you this neat new piece of jewelry and hasn't consulted you in advance, here are some things you can have him/her do to make sure problems are avoided during the healing process:

1. Rinse the mouth with warm salt water frequently
2. Brush and use mouthwash after every meal
3. Don't use alcohol or tobacco of any kind
4. Stay away from spicy, sticky or acidic foods
5. Check with your dentist right away if there is any pain, swelling, or redness at the site or you have any other concerns

Keep an eye on your teen to see if anything develops that needs a dentist's attention. Once done, you'll probably get used to the piercing, but it's a good idea to watch out for future dental problems.

Back to article list