Many people in their teens and twenties want to get their tongue or lips pierced. This isn’t like getting your ears pierced. Unlike your ear lobe, your tongue is a muscle with many blood vessels. To get your tongue pierced, a cork is placed underneath it. A long needle is punched through the sensitive tissue. Then a bar bell is inserted in the hole, and all of this is done without anesthesia. Soon after the bar bell is inserted, your tongue will swell. The swelling is significant and usually lasts for three to five days. Because your tongue is covered with bacteria, they can invade the wound and enter your blood stream. This can result in painful infections that ooze pus into your mouth and throat. If this happens, you need immediate medical attention.
The needle used in a tongue piercing is quite thick, and the sheer size of it can cause problems. If it hits one of the many veins in your tongue, expect heavy bleeding. The nerves in the tongue can be severed, resulting in permanent numbness. You can also lose the ability to taste.
The jewelry itself can present problems. The hard metal ball is constantly hitting the fragile tooth structure, much like a wrecking ball. People with tongue studs tend to habitually bite them, which increases the chance of chipping or scratching a tooth. If the ball becomes loose, you might inhale or swallow it, resulting in serious injury or death. Lip rings can also wear away the gums. This can lead to gingivitis and expose the tooth roots, which can make your teeth sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet foods.
Because our goal is to keep your teeth and gums healthy, we do not recommend this fashion statement. If you must get an oral piercing, take some precautions. Make sure the piercing shop is clean. The piercer should be properly trained, follow OSHA guidelines for blood borne pathogens, use only sterilized needles and equipment, and take the time to explain the procedure and follow up care. You should also begin using a brand new toothbrush immediately after the procedure. Oral piercings are a trend that can cause lasting, severe damage, so please think twice before doing it.