Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mouth piercings: Let a healthy smile make the fashion statement

Tongue piercings, lip piercings, cheek piercings – they all seem to be a part of an innocent teenage fad of fashion and self expression. But, often overlooked are the heath risks associated with oral piercings, and there are numerous:

o Infection – The wound created by an oral piercing, the vast amount of bacteria in the mouth, and the introduction of additional bacteria from handling the jewelry creates a breeding ground for infection.

o Uncontrollable Bleeding or Nerve Damage – Numbness or loss of sensation at the site of the piercing can occur if nerves have been damaged. If blood vessels are punctured, prolonged bleeding can occur.

o Increased Saliva – Mouth jewelry often increases salivary flow which could result in temporary or permanent drooling. It can also result in difficulty chewing and swallowing food, and speaking clearly.

o Pain and Swelling – Oral piercings, specifically tongue piercings, often lead to pain and swelling which can be severe enough to block the airway and make breathing difficult.

o Blood Poisoning or Endocarditis – Due to the wound created by the piercing, it is possible for bacteria to enter the bloodstream and lead to the development or blood poisoning or endocarditis – an inflammation of the heart or its valves.

o Injuries to the Gum Tissue – People with oral piercings have a greater risk of gum disease than those without oral piercings. Mouth jewelry can come into contact with gum tissue resulting in injury as well as a recession of the gum tissue which can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss.

o Damage to Teeth – Teeth that come into contact with mouth jewelry can chip or crack.

o Choking – Mouth jewelry that becomes loose in the mouth can become a choking hazard. If swallowed, studs, barbells, or hoops can result in injury to the digestive tract or lungs.

So, before you consider an oral piercing, think about its affect on your oral health and overall health and talk to your dentist.

Skip the mouth jewelry fad and let a healthy smile make a fashion statement.