The Dangers of Piercing and Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Jeffrey A. Weller


The Risks of Oral Piercings

Self-expression comes in many forms. Art, fashion, writing or even body piercing. Before you think about getting an oral piercing—such as labret, lip, cheek or tongue piercings—you should know the risks involved.

The Risks of Piercing 

Getting an oral piercing is very different from getting your ears pierced. A piercing close to the mouth is also close to plenty of bacteria, nerves, and blood vessels. This can lead to certain health risks:

Bacterial Infection. There is a huge amount of bacteria that the mouth hosts. For this reason, the oral cavity is easily infected. Not using sterile tools or lack or proper aftercare can lead to bacterial infections.

Teeth and Gum Damage. The combination of tooth and jewelry and the frequent contact of both can lead to erosion of tooth enamel or even cracked or chipped teeth. Gum recession, which is irreversible, is a common side effect of oral piercings. Gum recession can cause tooth sensitivity and even tooth loss.

Speech, Swallowing, Chewing, and Tasting Difficulties. Oral piercings can stimulate saliva flow, sometimes making speech challenging. If a tongue piercing swells, the tongue will be unable to function properly and could block the airway. The taste of things can also be altered due to an oral piercing.

Allergic Reaction. Some metals in the jewelry can cause an allergic reaction.

Prolonged Bleeding or Nerve Damage. This especially applies to tongue piercings since the tongue contains so many nerves and blood vessels. Problems with movement or numbness as well as loss of sensation at the site of the piercing are signs of nerve damage. A punctured blood vessel can be severe and difficult to control.

Gum Disease. Periodontal disease is a risk factor in getting an oral piercing. Gum disease can lead to tooth or bone loss.

Still Getting a Piercing? Get It Done Correctly


If you understand the risks and still want to get an oral piercing, you must make sure it is done by a professional with sterile instruments. Your dentist can give you the information on proper aftercare as well as how to maintain your piercing so you can prevent any infections or complications.

Your health is important to us. Call us with any questions about this post or a piercing you may already have. We love to hear from our patients!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.