Grosse Pointe & Shelby Township


Oral Piercings and Oral Health: Know the Risks!

A woman with tooth pain due to an oral piercing.

Piercings have continued to become more and more popular among teens and young adults over the years. This includes less common piercings like tongue piercings. But did you know that oral piercings and oral health are very closely tied? You can introduce new risks to your long-term dental health!

Read on to learn about the risks, as well as some tips to help keep your mouth safe if you still decide to get an oral piercing.


Your mouth is full of bacteria. No matter how much you brush, floss or use mouthwash, you can’t remove it all! A tongue piercing, like any piercing, opens a wound in your body that has a potential to become infected.

In the first few weeks following an oral piercing, it’s critical to take the utmost care in cleaning and general dental care. Any lapse in cleaning can become an infection nightmare.

Most oral piercings take up to a month for full healing. Make sure to continue using warm salt water or antibacterial rinses!

Nerve Damage

Hopefully the professionals that complete an oral piercing on your tongue know what they’re doing! If they’re off the mark, it’s possible that they can damage a nerve in your tongue. For most, this can result in short-term numbness; but sometimes the loss of feeling can be permanent!

Permanent nerve damage to your tongue will have side-effects that can be life-altering, such as:

  • Complete or partial loss of your sense of taste
  • Slurring, lisping or other speech impediments
  • Reduced movement of your tongue
  • Permanent numbness

Because of the close connection between oral piercings and oral health, it’s important that you do your due diligence and choose the right person to complete your piercing!

Gum Disease & Damage

Gums are very sensitive! As many orthodontic patients learn, it can take some time for your mouth to acclimate to a new permanent appliance or object in the mouth. If your oral piercing rubs or strikes against your gums, the damage will accumulate over days and weeks.

One example of a common reaction is sores on the most aggravated parts of the gums. Sores can be painful – and they’ll worsen with additional contact. Plus, sores make it easier for infections or gum disease to take hold in your mouth.

Cracked/Fractured Teeth

Your gums and tongue aren’t the only parts of your mouth that are at risk from an oral piercing, either! Whether you pierce your lip or your tongue, your piercing will frequently contact your teeth as you adjust to having it.

Even lightly striking a metal piercing against your teeth can cause damage – they’re not designed for withstanding the impact of metal. If you play with your piercing, as many tend to do, you will likely cause even more damage.

Fractures are common and require a dentist’s intervention to repair. More severe damage could completely crack a tooth and require more serious treatment.

Still Thinking of an Oral Piercing? Follow These Tips!

Talk to Your Dentist

Like any major decision involving your oral health, your dentist can be an excellent guide to helping you understand the risks involved. Some things, like orthodontics or treatment plans may be impacted by your decision to get an oral piercing.

Avoid Oversized Piercings

The larger your piercing is, the more likely it is to cause damage to your oral health. Heavier barbell piercings will almost certainly contact your teeth or gums and lead to potential dental emergencies.

Smaller piercings still put you at risk but decrease the potential damage and the likelihood of direct impacts between the piercing and your teeth. However, any piercing still has the potential to cause nerve damage or may even cause an allergic reaction!

Don’t Play with the Piercing

When your piercing is new, you may be tempted to bite it or tap it against your teeth. It won’t take much to do real damage to your teeth – so be certain not to play with the piercing! If you find yourself incapable of ignoring the piercing in your mouth, you may want to consider removing it completely. Teeth weren’t designed to chew on metal and will crack very quickly.

Develop a Flawless Oral Care Routine

Lastly, if you have any type of oral piercing, your dental care routine needs to be perfect. While poor dental care can eventually lead to long-term health issues for anyone, the risk for infection is high with these types of piercings.

An infection in your mouth is dangerous to your health – not to mention very unpleasant! If you think your oral piercing isn’t healing well, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately.

Contact us to set up an appointment

Keep Your Mouth Healthy – Schedule an Appointment

Pointe Dental Group can provide you with a complete examination, answer your questions, and discuss your treatment options. Schedule an appointment with us today! New patients can receive FREE comprehensive exam and consultation, plus a full panoramic x-ray with a paid cleaning procedure (a $200 value)!


Grosse Pointe Farms: (313) 881-2480

Shelby Township: (586) 803-8300


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