Gone are the days when oral piercings were a sign of social deviance. Oral piercings, like tongue rings, have become more popular than ever among the young and trendy. If you have thought about getting a piercing in your tongue, lip, or mouth, know that the piercing can negatively affect your dental health. Read on to find out more about piercings and how to keep your smile sparkling.
Know the Many Types of Oral Piercings
If you are considering getting an oral piercing, you have many options. Here are the some of the oral piercing options:
- Web piercing: A piercing is placed on the fold of mucus membrane, called the frenum. This piercing stretches between the top lip, over the top teeth, or under the tongue.
- Uvula piercing: A piercing is placed through the connective tissue at the back of the throat, called the uvula. This is an uncommon piercing location.
- Lip piercing: A piercing can be placed on the top or bottom lip. Some popular places include the corners of the bottom lip and underneath the center of the bottom lip.
- Dorsoventral tongue piercing: This type of tongue piercing was most common in the early 2000s. A piercing is placed from the dorsal (top) to the ventral (bottom) of the tongue. The top of the piercing can be seen when the wearer sticks their tongue out.
- Dorsolateral tongue piercing: While a dorsoventral tongue piercing is inserted from top to bottom, a dorsolateral piercing is inserted from left to right, through the widest part of the tongue.
- Cheek piercing: A piercing is placed through the cheeks and held in place by studs.
No matter what type of oral piercing you decide to get, it’s important to know how to properly care for your mouth and teeth afterward so you can avoid any harmful effects.
Learn the Harmful Effects of Oral Piercings
With any oral piercing, the foreign metal has an effect on your mouth. The foreign metal can cause problems by rubbing against tissue in your mouth or your teeth. Here are some of the most common problems oral piercings can cause.
Oral piercings increase rubbing in your mouth, which increases saliva production. With extra saliva in your mouth, you have a higher chance of drooling.
- Trouble With X-Rays
Since oral piercings are made of metal, they can interfere with x-rays. However, if you tell your dentist ahead of time, the dentist can adjust the placement of the films to get a clear picture of your teeth.
- Bad Breath
Oral piercings provide extra nooks and crevices for plaque to hide in. If plaque builds up over time, it can make your breath stink. Also, the extra metal can make it harder to brush. It’s hard enough to reach the back teeth in your mouth without piercings, but the piercing can cause an obstruction, making it even harder. Plaque buildup equals bad breath.
- Infection or Swelling
In some cases, infections can develop after a piercing. Most of the time you can avoid infections from the initial piercing by using sterile instruments. But even with sterile piercings, the moist environment in your mouth breeds bacteria. If you experience swelling, you may need to contact a doctor or remove the piercing to deal with an infection.
- Chipped Teeth
A lot of people who get oral piercings are constantly tempted to play with the jewelry between their tongue and teeth. Some even have to fight biting down on the metal. The constant presence of a loose piece of metal in your mouth can scratch or chip your teeth.
- Worn-Down Teeth
People who have piercings and play with them can wear down their tooth enamel. Worn tooth enamel causes tooth sensitivity and cavities over time.
- Damaged Dental Work
Oral piercings can knock out previous dental work. Fillings, crowns and bridges, and even braces can all be damaged by piercings in the mouth.
- Receding Gums
Up to 35% of people of people who have tongue piercings for longer than four years also experience receding gums. The tongue piercing rubs against the gums and causes it to creep upward, exposing dentin, the bone beneath the tooth enamel. Lip piercings and tongue piercings damage the gums near the front teeth.
If gum damage develops for a long time, it can become periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more extreme version of receding gums, where the inner layer of the gums expose pockets above the dentin, which can result in loose teeth and even lost teeth.
- Crooked Teeth
Although it’s not a common result of oral piercings, some tongue piercings can cause diastema, a condition that results in a gap between the two front teeth.
What to Do If You Get an Oral Piercing
If you decide to get or keep an oral piercing, you must decide to make oral hygiene a first priority. It might help to talk to your dentist to see if you need to schedule more frequent cleaning appointments. While people with minimal dental needs only need to visit the dentist twice a year, people with oral piercings might need to schedule as many as three or four yearly visits to prevent plaque buildup and gum damage.
If you have a dental concern, schedule an appointment with your dentist.