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How Your Teen's Oral Piercing Might Affect Her Dental Health

Posted on 10/25/2015 by Janie Bell
A teenage woman with a tongue piercing.As a parent, you may be horrified the day that your teen comes home with an oral piercing, whether this new hardware is attached to her tongue, cheek, or lip.

While you may be concerned about how the piercing affects her appearance, her ability to get a job, or her educational opportunities, there are other concerns that you should also be thinking about: her dental health.

The Risks of Oral Piercings on Dental Health

If your teen is considering an oral piercing, you may be trying to think of any possible scenario that might convince her otherwise. One thing that you might not have considered is how the piercing might affect your teen's dental and overall health:

•  Tooth damage. When teeth come into contact with jewelry in the mouth, they could crack or chip, especially when wearing barbell tongue jewelry.
•  Problems with daily oral functions. A tongue piercing can lead to difficulty swallowing, chewing food, and speaking clearly. This occurs when jewelry in the mouth stimulates excessive saliva production. Other side effects could be drooling and altered taste.
•  Infections. The wound that was created by a piercing will be subjected to a vast amount of oral bacteria, and when handling the jewelry in the mouth, potentially with dirty hands, even more bacteria will be added to the mix. This can lead to a high risk of developing an infection.
•  Endocarditis. There is the chance that bacteria could enter into your bloodstream via the wound created during the piercing. This could result in a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the heart known as endocarditis.
•  Gum disease. People who have oral piercings have a greater risk of developing gum disease than people without these piercings. This is because the jewelry may contact the gum tissue, resulting in injury and recession of the gums. This can actually lead to tooth loss.
•  Damage to dental work. If your teen has had dental work done in the past, such as a crown put in place or fillings, dental jewelry can potentially damage these restorations.

When Your Teen Has an Oral Piercing

If your teen has gotten an oral piercing and the damage has already been done, there are a few simple tips that you should consider in order to minimize the chance of problems:

•  Be sure to contact your dentist if your teen experiences any sign of infection, including chills, fever, pain, or swelling.
•  Encourage your teen to keep the site of the piercing clean and to use mouthwash after each meal.
•  Have your teen periodically check the tightness of the jewelry in order to prevent choking or swallowing in the event that the hardware becomes dislodged.
•  Tell your teen to avoid clicking the jewelry against the teeth so that no stress is put on the piercing.
•  Make sure your teen removes oral piercing jewelry whenever taking part in athletics, and when necessary, protect the mouth using a mouth guard.
•  Promote good dental hygiene habits around your house, and schedule your teen for regular dental checkups.

It is important that you and your teen understand that as long as they keep their mouth free of infection and their piercings don't interfere with normal functioning, they'll be able to stay within the mouth indefinitely. However, considering the risks involved with them, even after the wound has healed completely, the safest bet is to avoid oral piercings completely.

If you have additional questions about how your teen's oral piercing could potentially affect her dental health, or if you need advice on how to reduce her risk of experiencing adverse reactions immediately after a piercing, feel free to contact our office.
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D. Ian Bell, D.D.S.
Advanced Aesthetic, Restorative & Implant Dentistry
Bellevue-Redmond Professional Center

15613 Bel-Red Rd, Suite A
Bellevue, WA 98008-2348
(425) 883-8333
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