Oral Piercing – A Friend or Foe to Your Health?
With recent trends heading the way they are, everyone, whether it be your daughter, son, mate, coworker, boss or even parents might have considered getting an oral piercing. Studs through your lips, labret (the little dimple above your chin, just below your lip), tongue and pretty much any skin in and around the mouth have become increasingly popular, and hey, why not? With promise as fellatio and cunnings aids, fashion statements, and even diversionary toys everybody wants one. Unfortunately, oral piercings carry high risks- from infection to eroded gums and teeth and even in extreme cases, facial paralysis.
The piercing of oral structures has a higher than normal risk of infection die to the vast amounts of bacteria that thrives in the mouth. As body piercing becomes more envogue, and as individuals run out of body parts to pierce, many are now turning to the mouth, lips and tongue as places to adorn their jewelry.
Common symptoms following the piercing of intra-oral structures include pain, swelling, infection and an increase flow of saliva. Other potential complications include the cracking or fracturing of teeth and restorations, interference with chewing, swallowing or speaking, injury to one’s gums, and the development of nerve sensitivity as a result of the galvanic currents that arise from metal jewelry contacting the metal fillings in one’s mouth.
It is important to print out that a large portion of the population of individuals who choose to pierce their lips, cheeks and tongue will more than likely undergo one or more of the above listed adverse conditions. There also exists the possibility that a piece of the jewelry may be swallowed unintentionally posing a serious threat if it were to be aspirated into one’s lung. Often, with lip piercings, the backing of the jewelry can rub against the gum, causing irreparable damage, and expose the root of the tooth.
In recent years dentists have seen a number of patients who have required root canal procedures or tooth extractions due to the damage caused by their patient’s oral piercing. Although body piercers instruct their recipients to rinse with Listerine or Gly-Oxide, it is not unheard of to encounter serious secondary infections or even airway obstruction from excessive swelling. The manipulation of the jewelry with one’s unwashed fingers may also introduce the possibility of infection.
If one is to pierce one of their oral structures, it is recommended that either surgical grade steel, 14-karat yellow or white gold or niobium jewelry be used. It is even more critical that the chosen jewelry be removable. The individual should be reminded that home care is critical, and not to be ignored. Plaque and tartar (which harbor bacteria colonies) do build up around oral piercings, and should be cleaned at home daily. Intra-oral jewelry may also obstruct certain findings on dental X-rays, hindering a thorough oral examination.
Oral piercing is not as painless as ear piercing. Tongue piercing, for example, relies on the use of a clamp or hemostat to stabilize the tongue while the piercing is being performed by a needle of similar gauge as the jewelry being inserted. It is very important that the individual placing the pierce be experienced, because the tongue does contain many blood vessels.
If one or more of these vessels were to e punctured bleeding may occur. Keep in mind that body piercers are unlicensed and more than often self trained. If the proper infection control standards are not strictly followed, the possibility of transmitting diseases (i.e. Hepatitis, HIV and herpes) becomes a realistic consequence.
If a nerve is pierced, it can be severed, causing partial or full facial paralysis. My advice is to think long and hard before subjecting one’s self to this form of art and self expression. Don’t place your health blindly into the hands of a piercer. Check him out, try and find someone who you know their work or can see records of previous piercings.
Most good piercers have no problem answering any of your questions and will walk you step by step through the procedure. The artist should show you a packaged sterilized needle and open the package in front of you just before it is used. If at any time you are uncertain of the hygienic condition of the parlor or artist, voice your concerns. If you’re not put at ease by the piercer, leave – your health far outweighs any benefit you could receive from an oral piercing.
Any piercing, no matter how safely performed, and how well maintained can still result in health problems. Jewelry can and will get caught on just about anything and can easily tear the skin. Some bodies reject piercings, and the jewelry migrates, which means the hole heals in such a way that the piercing will be moved to an extremity until it is finally expelled from the body. Scar tissue can be repierced, but the scarring itself can be extensive, grotesque and permanent.
If you choose to join the ranks of the pierced, pay careful attention to hygiene. Keep all fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and other sexual fluids) away from the piercing for at least six weeks. Your body is immune to its own secretions, but not anyone else’s.
Although oral piercing carries its own inherent risks, if you’re careful and mature in your upkeep, you stand a good chance of avoiding health problems. But as with any endeavor in life, nothing is guaranteed, and some damage is permanent. As long as you are willing to accept the risks, and are educated about the procedure, sit back and relax – this might pinch a bit.
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