Oral Piercings and Oral Health

A recent study by the Oral Health Foundation (OHF) has highlighted the relationship between oral piercings and oral health. The study found that tongue piercings were the most popular type of oral piercing, with 43% of people surveyed having one. 33% had a lip piercing, with cheek (3%) and gum (7%) piercings being a less common choice. 13% those with an oral piercing had more than one.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the OHF said: “Oral piercings are a major cause of chipped or cracked teeth due to trauma when they come into contact with the teeth; many people even have a habit of biting or playing with their piercing which can be extremely dangerous and can often lead to extensive dental work. On a day to day basis oral piercings can interfere with such basic functions such as speech, chewing and swallowing.”

He also highlighted the risk of infection due to poor aftercare: “The mouth also contains a huge amount of bacteria and is an ideal place for infection to arise, this is especially the case with new piercings as it is an open wound and needs constant care and attention to prevent infection. An infection can quickly lead to other more serious conditions such as blood poisoning (septicaemia). The act of getting a piercing is itself very dangerous as if done incorrectly can cause issues such as permanent numbness of the tongue, blood loss, excessive swelling which affects breathing and swallowing and in severe cases and increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis B.”

The OHF is encouraging people considering oral piercings to research the risks and aftercare involved, as well as only getting piercings from reputable sources. Using antisepctic mouthwash, avoiding excessive fiddling with piercings and avoiding contact with the teeth are advised to avoid dental erosion. Removal of any piercings during physical activity such as sport is also advised.

As with oral health in general, regular visits to the dentist and swift treatment of any arising problems are the best ways to maintain good oral health.

Don’t let piercings put a hole in your oral health [via Oral Health Foundation]

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