Tongue piercing and oral health: what are the risks? | The new times
It may seem trendy and cool to pierce different parts of the body, but experts point out that it is advisable to consult a doctor before piercing your tongue.
Dr. Lambert Nduwayezu, a dentist at Polyfam Clinic in Kigali, explains that tongue piercing can lead to severe pain and swelling for several days after the piercing episode. A swollen tongue can prevent you from breathing.
He says new holes in the tongue are particularly prone to infection because the oral cavity is home to many colonies of bacteria, in some people with heart disease the bacteria can lead to disease that can damage your heart valves.
“Saliva production may increase as the body reacts to a totally unnatural entity in the mouth, and an increase in the occurrence of enamel fissures, enamel fissures and gum recessions, particularly on the lingual aspect,” he says.
Dr. Nduwayezu also notes that tongue piercings can make it difficult to speak, chew, or swallow and can damage the tongue, gums, or fillings.
Tongue piercing makes you salivate and makes it difficult for your dentist to take an x-ray of your teeth, which can lead to serious health issues like gum disease, uncontrolled bleeding and long-term infections, adds he.
He adds that piercing the tongue can lead to an allergic reaction to the metal of the jewelry and damage the nerves of the tongue, a condition that is usually brief, but can sometimes last a long time.
Dr. Nduwayezu says long-term problems with tongue piercings are very common. Screw-in balls constantly rub against tooth enamel, making teeth susceptible to cavities and gums prone to periodontal disease. Soft tissues can also become infected in specific areas, as the bar of the tongue continues to rub against it.
According to Dr. Michel Mbonimana, a dental surgeon at the Kigali Adventist Dental Clinic, drilling holes in the tongue and having metal banging in the mouth is not good for oral health.
If done, it should be done by a well trained professional with sterilized materials, in a sterilized environment as this can introduce unwanted microorganisms into the bloodstream leading to infections.
“A lot of people, especially young people, get their tongue pierced every year. I respect them, but advise them to put their oral health before aesthetic or cultural reasons. Oral health is about the proper functioning of oral structures and intraoral comfort,” he says.
Dr. Mbonimana further notes that one should not pierce the tongue as it can chip the teeth. Tongue piercings are the reason many teens and young adults need crowns even if they haven’t had significant tooth decay.
Dr Mbonimana says tongue piercings put you at risk of bacterial infections with serious consequences. “By no means would we say that infections are a common experience in body modification, but it is a significant risk nonetheless. Academic research has been published linking tongue piercings to life-threatening infections.
Tongue piercing can be done in many dangerous ways. Many companies that perform tongue piercings are licensed and inspected to ensure safe conditions. Many young people, on the other hand, do not frequent these places without parental permission, he adds.
Tongue piercings can cause speech difficulties. Sometimes the adverse results of a bad tongue piercing include excess saliva and a change in speaking habits.
Dr. Mbonimana points out that tongue piercings can cause the gums to recede prematurely. A common tendency for many young people with a tongue piercing is receding gums inside their teeth. This can lead to many unnecessary oral complications early in life.
“One wrong move can lead to permanent nerve damage if you opt for the do-it-yourself tongue piercing. Tongue piercings can give you stinky breath. Plaque builds up on your teeth and can lead to prickly. Putting jewelry in your mouth gives plaque another place to build up, and tongue piercings can be difficult to clean. Do yourself a favor and avoid this unnecessary irritation,” says Dr Mbonimana.
Dr Roger Anamali, a dental surgeon in Kigali, says oral piercing is becoming increasingly popular but the procedure is far from safe. The mouth is a moist place, containing masses of bacteria. It is an ideal environment for the development of infections. Several major blood vessels and nerves can be affected by a tongue piercing.
He says that during the drilling process, blood vessels and nerves can be torn and damaged.
Paresthesias (a type of sensory disturbance involving subjective tingling and burning) have been reported due to oral piercing. This causes a decrease in sensation similar to partial anesthesia.
Dr. Anamali also adds that tongue piercing can lead to tissue enlargement and excessive tissue growth can occur around the rod inserted into the tongue.
“Jewellery fasteners rubbing against teeth can lead to tooth wear, fractures from repetitive impact, and sensitivity, among other things. Plastic pins are less potentially damaging than metal. Oral piercing increases the risk of tooth fractures and gum disease by about 20%,” says Dr. Anamali.