Piercings are a form of self expression.
While the ADA themselves oppose the practice of oral piercings, we prefer to educate our patients on the risks involved as well as the proper safety precautions if you choose in favor of it after knowing the possibilities. Most piercings more or less run the same risks. The most common of oral piercings is the tongue, however it stands to reason if there is enough tissue to grasp, it can be pierced. Other common piercings relating to the mouth are the cheeks, lips, uvula (the hanging ball in the back of your throat) or even a combination of the sites.
Some minor issues associated with oral piercings are:
Disrupted speech, chewing and swallowing. These may occur long after the piercing heals since the piercing jewelry is not a natural extension of your mouth.
Some higher level risks include:
Excessive drooling due to increased saliva flow
Infection, accompanied by pain or swelling
Chipped or cracked teeth
Injuries to the gums resulting in gum disease or gum recession
(wearing away of the gums)
Damage to fillings
Hypersensitivity to metals
In the most severe cases, the risks include:
Bloodborne Hepatitis (Types B, C, D, & G)
Infections resulting in death
Piercing is not a casual decision, it is an important responsibility that should be thought about long and hard until you are aware of all possibilities. If after researching the piercing you are interested in you are still comfortable with the risks, there are safety precautions we recommend.
Know your piercer
You should make sure you are comfortable with the person doing the piercing
Ask them questions. They should be able to answer anything relating to the process.
Make sure they have the appropriate licenses and permits in your state, all states have different qualifications, check the guidelines for your area and make sure the shop you are going to is up to code.
Ask to see their portfolio. You want to be sure they have had extensive training and are experienced enough for your comfort level
Check/ask about their sterilization process
Piercing tools should be in individually sealed packages. Most piercing/tattoo shops will be more than happy to show you how the sterilize their equipment. They will take pride in the standards they hold themselves to.
Are the needles disposible?
Is the studio well kept and clean? If you even feel the need to question this you should be finding somewhere else.
Read the aftercare instructions BEFORE they start
After you're done, chances are you will be more concerned with leaving and showing off your new piercing. You should read the aftercare instructions before anything is done so you have time to think about any questions you may have relating to the piercing, the healing or anything else relating to the aftercare.
The piercer should explain all aftercare instructions including the use of antimicrobial, alcohol free mouth rinses and sea salt rinses.
Tongue piercing aftercare guidelines recommend not to smoke for at least one week after the piercing to avoid further troubles. In addition, do not drink alcoholic beverages until the swelling goes away. Avoid kissing during the healing period.
You will need a soft or liquid diet (like mashed potatoes, soups, broths etc) for about a week. Stay away from spicy and crunchy foods. Avoid very hot food or beverages to reduce the risk of burning the exposed area. Any piercing in the mouth is also likely to affect your speech, especially during the first few days.
With tongue piercings, it is common to develop a yellow film on the surface of the tongue within a few days after piercing. Some believe this happens because of overuse of mouthwash. The problem mostly resolves within a few more days.
Though, yellow discharge from tongue accompanied by severe swelling is more often than not, a sign of infection which may or may not be due to negligence towards oral piercing aftercare.
You will have to take antibiotics advised by a doctor to get rid of an infection. A small amount of whitish discharge, however, is not an issue and is usually dead blood cells that unable to form scab on the wound because of saliva.
Hydrogen peroxide is often considered bad for any oral piercings and should not be used. Under normal circumstances, it is better to rely on the “good bacteria” naturally present in the saliva to avoid infections as well as the stabile rinsing methods previously described.
Try using a mild toothpaste during the healing process to avoid burning. Do NOT however skip brushing your teeth for fear of discomfort as this will result in infection or other complications.
Continue to practice good oral hygiene, switch to a new toothbrush with soft bristles and rinse the mouth with an alcohol free mouthwash several times through day, especially after eating, drinking or if you insist on smoking.
Avoid sharing plates, cups and other utensils to prevent cross contamination of infections since you will have exposed tissue due to the new hole in your body.
Don't chew on anything that may have bacteria, including but not limited to: gum, tobacco, fingernails, (keep your hands out of your mouth!) pencils etc.
When in doubt, if there is severe discomfort, unusual tastes, smells or anything of question, ask a professional. Whether you turn to your piercer, doctor or dental professional, it is always better to ask then to let it go and risk health complications.
Robert Lustbader DDS
425 Robinson Avenue
Newburgh, NY 12550
MON 8am - 6pm
TUE 8am - 5pm
WED 8am - 6pm
THU 8am - 6pm
FRI 8am - 5pm
SAT 8am - 1pm
Outside our regular business hours, please note our emergency care information.