The Damage A Lip Or Tongue Piercing Can Do To Your Mouth

13 March 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

If you're thinking about getting a tongue or lip piercing, you should be warned in advance that you may be putting your oral health at risk. Even if your piercing heals properly, your gums, teeth, and bone may be damaged. Here is some information about what piercings can do to your oral health and what steps you can take to minimize your risk.

Barbell-Induced Damage

Barbell tongue piercings can damage gums and teeth by rubbing against them when you talk, eat, or simply flick your tongue. This simple wear-and-tear can damage your chompers by wearing down enamel, chipping the teeth or damaging fillings. Your gums are also at risk, as the repeated wear can result in the gum-line receding. When enough gum tissue is lost, it can't grow back or repair itself, so the portions of your teeth that have no enamel to protect them become exposed, increasing your risk of tooth decay.

Simply choosing a shorter barbell isn't a viable option to avoid damage to your teeth and gums. Studies have found that shorter barbells are more likely to chip your teeth, but half of long barbells wearers ended up with chipped teeth after four years of use.

To reduce your risk of damage, avoid metal barbells and use acrylic or plastic ones instead. If you must use a metal barbell, a softer one made of gold of a higher karat, for example, is preferable to steel or silver.

Chewing On A Piercing

Dentists advise that you not chew on ice or your fingernails, as doing so can damage the enamel on your teeth or even chip a tooth. Now imagine how much damage you could do by chewing on a lip ring or stud made of metal.

If you're a habitual piercing-chewer, try to break the habit. Chewing gum is one way to keep your mouth occupied; if stress is behind your piercing-chewing, try to learn to recognize your stress when it arises and consciously cope with it rather than through unconscious stress behaviors.

Dental Nuisance

Piercings can not only damage your teeth and gums, they can make getting your mouth treated for said damage more difficult. Oral piercings can be an obstacle for hygienists and dentists to examine and clean your mouth. Worse still, metal piercings interfere with X-rays, as metal can cause visual distortions on the X-ray.

If you can, remove your piercings prior to your dental appointment. If you're having teeth filled, your mouth numbed or another serious dental procedure performed, make sure to talk to your dentist about whether it's safe to put your piercing back in immediately after your dental appointment.

If you value your teeth and oral health, the best thing you can do is to skip the oral piercings entirely. However, if you really want one, follow the tips in this guide to make it easier on your teeth and gums, and make sure to see a dentist for regular checkups to repair any damage your piercing has caused.