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Your teen may think piercings are cool but should really think twice before getting any oral piercings. There are numerous health risks associated with piercings in or around the mouth which include the transmission of diseases, infection, nerve damage, gum disease, tooth damage and allergies. It is important to fully understand the potential for these conditions before having any piercings.

Oral piercings greatly increase a person’s risk of getting diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and the Herpes Simplex Virus. There is also an increased risk for the spread of infection because the wound is more susceptible to existing bacteria in the mouth as well as newly introduced bacteria from jewelry. In serious instances this bacteria can even enter the bloodstream and cause a serious condition called Endocarditis which is inflammation of the heart or heart valves. If a piercing is not performed correctly the piercing can puncture a blood vessel causing prolonged bleeding or even hit a nerve which will lead to permanent nerve damage and numbness.

Gum disease is another serious condition that can result from oral piercings. Jewelry in the mouth which is usually located on the tongue, lips or cheeks often experience trauma as these tissues move. The result of repeated impact is damage to the gums and underlying bone. While this may not feel painful the result over time will be severe gum recession and bone loss that can lead to mobility or even worse loss of teeth!

Patients who have oral piercings experience a much greater risk for damaged teeth. In fact, a recent study indicates that 47% of people wearing barbell tongue jewelry for 4 or more years experienced at least one chipped tooth. Allergies are another serious concern that one must consider prior to having any oral piercings. The metal in oral jewelry is highly allergic and many people experience a reaction known as dermatitis which can cause a myriad of unpleasant symptoms which include bumps and rashes in and around the mouth.