California Dental Association says oral piercings pose significant dangers to oral health

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California Dental Association says oral piercings pose significant dangers to oral health

Metal jewelry is often the culprit in cracked or broken teeth. (DTI/Photo
Dental Tribune USA

Dental Tribune USA

Wed. 26 June 2013


SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA: The California Dental Association recognizes that in today’s society, many people use body piercing as a type of self-expression, but warns that oral piercings can be dangerous to your health. “Most people consider it a low-risk choice, but there are significant risks associated with oral piercings,” said CDA President Lindsey Robinson, DDS.

“They can interfere with speech, chewing or swallowing and often injure the gums, lead to cracked, scratched or sensitive teeth, and can damage fillings,” Robinson said. “Because the mouth is full of bacteria, it’s a difficult area to keep clean and infections occur more readily after an oral piercing.”

Common symptoms after oral piercing include pain, swelling and an increased flow of saliva. Although not common, serious infections can occur, such as hepatitis or endocarditis (inflammation of the tissue surrounding the heart). For some, blood poisoning, metal allergies or blood clots can occur. Additionally, piercers have no standardized training and may have limited knowledge of anatomy and physiology.

“If there’s a blood vessel or nerve in the path of a piercing, severe and difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result,” Robinson said. “Even after an oral piercing has healed, the risk of serious damage to teeth and gum tissue posed by the mouth jewelry itself still remains.”

Metal jewelry is often the culprit in cracked or broken teeth and although plastic jewelry reduces this risk, it cannot eliminate it entirely. For piercings of the lips, the back side of the jewelry attaches inside the mouth and can be a source of irritation to the opposing tissue. As the metal or plastic rests on the gum tissue, it can wear away the tissue as it moves back and forth — a result that requires reconstructive surgery to repair and in some instances results in lost teeth.

“This happens more commonly than people realize,” Robinson said. “If you have an oral piercing, it is important to regularly check the tissues in contact with the metal or plastic to ensure the jewelry isn’t causing damage or infection. And it’s essential to discover this early in the process."

CDA recommends consulting your member dentist before making the decision to pierce. When making that decision, CDA suggests being fully informed and committed to maintaining your oral health, including brushing with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes, twice a day, avoiding sugary drinks like soda, flossing daily and visiting a dentist for a complete dental checkup on a regular basis.

(Source: California Dental Association)

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