Tongue Piercing: How It Affects the Mouth and Teeth

tongue piercingBody piercing, particularly tongue piercings, have become so popular and common that many do not even think twice about their decision to get one.

This type of body accessory, however, may be damaging to the teeth and gums, according to Blue Sky Dentistry and other dental practices. A study, in fact, supports this as it revealed that extended wear of barbell-type tongue jewellery, which consists of a stem that goes through the tongue and held in place with screw caps, could cause chipping of the teeth and receding gums.

The Damage of Barbell-Type Piercings

In the study published in the Journal of Periodontology, researchers examined the mouths of 52 young adults with pierced tongues. They found that the damage varied according to the length of the stem.

Nearly half of the participants who wore barbells for more than three years had chipped teeth. The frequency of chipping, however, was higher for those wearing short barbells (less than 5/8 of an inch). According to the researchers, short-stemmed barbells cause tooth chipping because they are easier to position between the teeth, making wearers tend to habitually bite the barbell.

Other Ways a Piercing Damages the Mouth and Teeth

A tongue piercing can widen the gap between the two upper front teeth as well, in a condition called diastema. This is not very common, but it does happen, as evidenced by a case study written by orthodontists.

Jewellery makes it more difficult to brush the teeth, too, which means plaque thrives in the mouth and bacteria accumulate, causing bad breath.

Maintaining Oral Health

Dentists suggest patients should veer away from getting a tongue piercing. Those who wish to get one despite the risks, however, can still do something to maintain their oral health and avoid the potential risks.

For one, they should opt for longer barbells to avoid tooth chipping. It is important for those with tongue piercings to avoid alcohol, sticky foods, and tobacco products as well. Dentists recommend brushing after every meal, rinsing with mouthwash, and rinsing frequently with warm salt water. Most importantly, patients must talk to a dentist to avoid other potential risks.

Tongue piercing may look trendy and fashionable, but it affects teeth and overall oral health negatively. Fortunately, taking precautions now can help wearers increase their chances of keeping a good set of teeth for a lifetime.