Oral piercings are a popular expression of body art and modification. And while we respect everyone’s choices, we do want to make sure people understand the potential risks involved with piercing tongues, lips, cheeks or (we’ve even heard of this) the Uvula.

The mouth is a moist environment, and therefore a breeding ground for bacteria. Your mouth is the only part of your body that cannot be completely sterilized. So any injury—accidental or intentional—carries the risk of infection.

According to the American Dental Association, oral piercings can interfere with speech, chewing or swallowing. They may also cause:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Infection, pain and swelling
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Injuries to the gums
  • Damage to fillings
  • Increased saliva flow
  • Hypersensitivity to metals
  • Scar tissue
  • Nerve damage

 

These harmful effects can happen during the piercing, soon after, or even long after the procedure.

There is even the risk of Endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves or tissue. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the piercing wound and travel to the heart, where it can cause a damaging or sometimes fatal infection.

If you’re considering a piercing, please do everything you can to ensure that instruments are sterile and that you practice follow-up care to prevent infection. Or you might want to re-think the piercing and opt for some other type of personal expression.

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