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Tooth Talk with Brinkley Dental Group – Tongue Piercings – Ouch!


Are you among the small but growing percentage of people who have a tongue piercing? Is there a teen in the house just itching to show their independent streak by piercing something unusual? Well, if you have any control over the matter, perhaps consider asking them to pierce almost anything else rather than the tongue because when it comes to tongue piercings – it’s not just the initial “ouch” you need to worry about but all the potential side effects that might come after. Today we’re talking, “Everything you need to know about tongue piercings but were afraid to ask!”

In the US, approximately 9.5% of the female population and upwards of 16% of males have had a tongue piercing. While the team here at Brinkley Dental in Brampton respects individual freedom of choice, as dental professionals, the choice to pierce the tongue does cause us concern due to the very high probability of that piercing becoming problematic. The tongue is a muscle with both nerves and veins running through it and so to begin with – the piercer needs to be very familiar with the process or permanent damage could occur. Tongue piercings can lead to:

  • Chipped, damaged or cracked teeth.
  • Cause gaps in the teeth even where none previously existed, due to the metal ball of the piercing clicking/hitting the teeth.
  • Serious infection from all that bacteria already swirling around in the mouth.
  • Periodontal disease.
  • Receding gums.
  • Swollen tongue – this could even cause a choking off of the airway.
  • In extreme cases piercing can even lead to secondary infections such as herpes or blood-borne hepatitis.
  • Permanent nerve damage.

Tongue piercings are something we are starting to see a little bit more of in our dental practice. Overall such piercings can even be problematic for times like when it comes to having a dental x-ray. Many of us here at Brinkley Dental are parents and we get it – the teen years especially can be a time for self-expression and experimentation and you want to respect your teenager and their right to that self-expression. However, tongue piercings present a particular challenge. We encourage you to present alternatives to your “testy teenager” and perhaps be willing to be flexible in your position on things like hair colour or a nose piercing instead. Flaming pink hair will eventually grow out but the damage from a tongue piercing could last forever! Thanks for reading and as always we’ll end with this friendly reminder: “don’t forget to be a BFF  with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”

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