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Teenagers and Oral Piercing - Is it Safe?

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Updated: July 9, 2007

Oral piercing may be trendy among teenagers, but the side effects can be hazardous to their teeth and mouth. And many don’t take the time to learn about the risks and dangers associated with oral piercing.

A swollen tongue is a common side effect of tongue piercing. The American Dental Association points out that, “In extreme cases, a severely swollen tongue can actually close off the airway and prevent breathing.” Pain, infection and increased saliva are other common side effects of oral piercings.

Infection often accompanies oral piercings because of the abundance of bacteria that live in our mouth. Hepatitis can also be transmitted through unsanitized piercing instruments and equipment.

Once the mouth jewelry is in place, it can also cause problems. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, tongue piercing commonly causes fractured teeth. Teeth can easily become fractured or chipped from the jewelry bumping against the teeth. This can happen while the teen is talking, eating or even sleeping. A filling can usually be placed if the fracture is small and limited to the tooth enamel. If the fracture goes deeper, a root canal might be needed. In some cases, the tooth might even have to be extracted. Aside from possibly fracturing or chipping the teeth, mouth jewelry can pose a choking hazard if it becomes loose.

If your teenager is contemplating oral piercing, ask your dentist to discuss and examine the side effects with him. If your teenager already has oral piercings, schedule routine dental check ups so that your dentist can keep an eye out for fractured teeth or other problems.

More Information About Teenagers and Oral Health

Tongue Piercing Lightning Rod / Fact or Fiction?

Sources:

American Dental Association. Oral Piercing - Overview. 5 July 2007.

Academy of General Dentistry, Teen's Oral Health NO.6, Fact Sheet. 5 July 2007.

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