Patients will often ask about piercings and tattoos in the mouth and how it could affect their teeth. In addition to affecting your teeth, there are a lot of potential issues that could pop up from oral piercings and tattoos that affect your overall health, not only in the mouth.
As body piercing and tattoos become more popular, it is important to understand the risks associated with them as well as to know what these risks are. Below I will detail six potential problems of piercings and tattoos in the oral cavity that you should be aware of:
- Harm to the teeth, fillings, and gums- Patients that have oral piercings often report to me that they have a habit of clicking their piercing against the teeth. This habit will not only damage the teeth, but it causes the gum tissue to become irritated and receded as well as fillings to become damaged. Sometimes I see evidence of this habit and patients are unaware that they are doing it. This leads me to believe that the habit is happening while the patient is asleep, which can be very dangerous and a choking hazard.
- Infection- The mouth and tongue contain millions of bacteria. These bacteria can quickly adhere to areas around the piercings or the tattoos and cause an infection. Since the mouth is a warm, moist environment, infections can travel very quickly there. Any infection that causes swelling in the mouth, especially on the tongue, can quickly become life-threatening by closing the airway.
- Damage to nerves- When piercings and lip tattoos are done, there is always a risk that damage can happen to the nerves in your mouth. Nerve damage is usually reversible; however, sometimes the feeling in your mouth never quite reaches what it originally was. Keep in mind that the tissue lining of the mouth is more delicate than the inside of the eyelid so there is a potential for damage.
- Allergic reaction to metals– After having a metal piercing in your mouth sometimes patients develop an allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to metal
- Difficulties with Dental X–Rays- Oral tattoos do not interfere with dental x-rays; however, oral piercings will sometimes interfere with the dental x-rays. The metal in the piercing can sometimes block anatomy that we are trying to look at in the image
6 Tips for Patients with Oral Piercings:
- Be sure to keep the piercing and the area very clean. Ask your dentist and dental hygienist for tips on this.
- Do not tap and click the piercing against your teeth. Also by being aware while you are chewing and talking you can try and avoid problems since each time we talk and chew our tongue touches the teeth and the piercing could cause damage.
- Check the fit of the piercing time to time with sanitized hands. This can help avoid the jewelry from getting loose or becoming a choking hazard.
- Take the piercing out before engaging in sports activities to avoid any issues and protect the rest of your teeth with a mouth guard.
- See your dentist regularly, and remember to brush twice a day and floss daily.
If you start to any signs of infection such as pain, fever, chills, swelling, or a red-streaked appearance around the site of the piercing or tattoo, be sure to contact your dentist immediately.
Any oral piercing or tattoo is an added responsibility that requires maintenance and upkeep. Be sure to talk to your dentist and dental hygienist so that you are aware of how to properly clean the area to minimize your risk of infection.