Piercings are fun, funky and fashionable. Indeed, having an oral piercing (tongue, cheek, gum or lip) can look very attractive. However, there are also a number of associated health risks and you must be aware of these before you decide to be pierced. Read on and think twice before you pierce yourself orally.
• Infections. The risk of infections is very large, because the mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Additionally, when the jewelry is handled, further bacteria can be added. The risk is particularly large with gum piercings.
• Disease transmission. A piercing that is not done under proper sterile conditions can lead to the transmission of disease, in particular Hep. B and C and the herpes simplex virus.
• Endocarditis. This is where the heart or the valves of the heart become inflamed due to bacteria entering the bloodstream through the piercing wound. Generally, this only affects those who have heart problems, but this may not be diagnosed.
• Prolonged bleeding and nerve damage. This is a particular problem with tongue piercings, which can lead to problems moving the tongue. Additionally, following a tongue piercing, prolonged bleeding is possible, and the tongue can actually swell up so much that the airway gets blocked, leading to difficulties breathing.
• Gum disease. This is something that doesn’t happen as soon as you are pierced, but rather overtime. Additionally, the gum tissue can recede, which is particularly common in those with lip piercings.
• Tooth damage. This can occur when the piercing touches the teeth again and again. This issue is most often seen in people who have a cheek piercing. However, tongue bars are also big culprits in chipping teeth, with 47% of people who have one experiencing this.
• Difficulties performing oral functions. Swallowing can become difficult and people will notice their speech changes slightly as well. This is due to the fact that having a foreign object in or near the mouth leads to excessive saliva production. Indeed, it is not unheard of for people to actually start drooling, or for them to notice a difference in their taste sense.
• Allergic reactions. This happens if the metal used in the piercing leads to hypersensitivity. This is one of the rarest piercing side effects, but it can happen.
• Aspiration. This happens if the piercing becomes loose and ends up in the mouth, where it can additionally be breathed in.
It is very important to prevent the above risks from occurring as much as possible. Some tips to follow:
• Only use a piercing studio that comes recommended by someone you know and trust who has been pierced there themselves.
• Always visit the studio and make note of its cleanliness and what kind of instruments they use. Ask about their sterilization procedures.
• View the health certificates that the studio should have.
• Check the packaging of the instruments and the piercings to make sure they are sterile as well.
• Find out whether staff at the piercing studio is vaccinated against Hep B.
If you find that your questions cannot or will not be answered, you should go elsewhere.