Tongue piercings have become quite common in recent years, and many people have them with few or no negative effects. However, a tongue piercing can pose a serious risk to your oral health, so scrupulous care is required. Here is what you need to know to properly take care of your tongue piercing.
Tongue piercings are riskier than many other types of piercing due to the nature of the tongue. It is packed with nerves that could be damaged, leading to short-term or even permanent numbness. The tongue is also filled with blood vessels, and uncontrolled bleeding is always a risk from piercing it. In addition, certain diseases such as hepatitis B can be spread through piercing parlors.
To minimize these risks, carefully select your piercer. Choose someone who uses only healthcare-approved sterilization procedures and is highly skilled and experienced with tongue piercing. It is best to seek advice from several sources, including those who have that specific piercing, rather than simply choosing someone who did a different type of piercing on a friend.
No matter how good and careful your piercer is, though, tongue piercings also carry additional risks. These include:
- cracked or fractured teeth
- gum injuries
- damaged fillings
- infected piercing
- abnormal tooth wear
- increased saliva production
- trouble with speech or chewing
Also note that your tongue jewelry will interfere with dental X-rays. Tongue rings show up as solid white objects that can obscure the teeth. You will need to remove your jewelry before any oral X-rays, even if your piercing is not yet fully healed.
Proper Home Care
You can minimize many of the risks of having your tongue pierced by following a rigorous short-term and long-term home care plan. Cleanliness is the most basic element of any good home piercing care plan. Keep the piercing site scrupulously clean as directed by your piercer, and rinse with an antibacterial mouth rinse after every meal. Brush and floss your teeth as normal, and be sure to brush your tongue around the piercing site. Always wash your hands before tightening, removing, or changing your tongue jewelry.
Be careful not to play with your tongue jewelry inside your mouth, especially by clicking it against your teeth. Remove all mouth jewelry before playing contact sports, and use a mouth guard to more completely protect your teeth.
Keep a close eye out for any signs of infection. These can include pain, swelling, unusual warmth, or fever. An infected tongue piercing can become serious quickly, as it can cause the tongue to swell and constrict breathing. Call your dentist as soon as possible if you notice infection setting in. Call 911 immediately if you experience any trouble breathing.
Tongue piercings have become extremely common, and most dentists have experience dealing with patients who have them. Never hesitate to seek professional guidance for any issues you have that are associated with your tongue piercing.
If you have not yet gotten your tongue pierced, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice. You can get recommendations for safe, clean piercing specialists in your local area, as well as advice on piercing aftercare and even the types of tongue jewelry that are likely to be safer or more dangerous to your teeth.
In some cases, your dentist might advise you to postpone your tongue piercing for a period of time. If you have braces or are undergoing Invisalign or other ongoing treatments, it is better to wait until those treatments are finished before adding a new piercing that must be cared for. Likewise, if you have existing dental disease, your chances of infection in a new tongue piercing are greatly increased. Plan to have any fillings, root canals, or other treatments completed before you get your tongue pierced.
Tongue piercings are not inherently bad, but their nature makes them somewhat riskier than many other types of piercings. Talk you your dentist, practice scrupulous oral hygiene, and avoid clicking your tongue jewelry against your teeth, and you will lower your risks of developing problems.
At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.