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Piercings and Oral Health

Piercings and Oral Health

Friday, October 6th, 2017

These days, people are doing all sorts of different things to their bodies, all in the name of art. Unlike in the old days, today, people set themselves apart from others with such things as tattoos and body piercings. And by piercings, we don’t mean good old fashioned ear piercing! Today, you can find someone who will pierce just about any part of your body that you choose – with oral piercings coming in at the top of the list.

Most commonly, people will choose to have a part of their upper or lower lip pierced. Then there are the more daring types who have their tongue pierced. And coming in third in popularity, is the chin piercing.

Regardless of which type of piercing a person chooses, there are risks involved, not only for overall health, but for oral health in particular. Let’s take a look at some of these risks and what you can do to prevent them if you are brave enough to choose to have one of these types of piercings done.

Things to Consider Before Choosing to Have a Piercing Performed


It goes without saying that any time you have any type of invasive procedure done, whether it is a medical, dental or other procedure, ending up with an infection at the site is a very real possibility. If you are considering piercing, be sure to do a lot of research before choosing the person who will perform the piercing. Look for online reviews, visit the shop to do a visual inspection, and ensure that the shop practices excellent sanitation of all instruments that will be used.

Pain and Swelling

Ensure that you are prepared to experience pain and swelling after having a piercing performed. A piercing shop will not be able to provide you with any prescription pain medications or antibiotics, so it is important that you prepare in advance, by having a good supply of OTC pain relievers and at least one ice pack.

Injury to Gums and Teeth

The risk of damage to your teeth and gums is high with piercings. We’ll talk further about how to prevent this type of injury for existing piercings, however it’s important to know beforehand, that it is highly unlikely the person performing the piercing will have a sound knowledge of the structures of your mouth and teeth. Again, doing a lot of research and choosing someone with an excellent track record is your best defense.

Damage to Dental Fillings and Other Dental Work

As in the paragraph above, existing dental work (dental fillings etc.) is at risk when someone without the proper knowledge of dental work starts doing things in or around your mouth. Be sure to let the person performing the piercing know about your existing dental work so they can at least try to be careful not to cause any damage.

Nerve Damage

Any type of piercing runs the risk of nerve damage regardless of where it is located. Since piercers are rarely trained in anatomy or how to avoid nerves, the risk of nerve damage is fairly high.

Allergic Reaction

There have been many reports of people experiencing allergic reactions during piercings. These reactions can include any numbing cream applied before the procedure, and a reaction to the ‘hardware’ placed in the piercing (such as studs, labrets, etc.).

Other Complications

Along with the risks listed above, having any type of hardware in or around your mouth can cause many complications further on in life if you require facial or dental X-rays, or any type of dental work. Ensure that whatever hardware you have put in place during your piercing is removable, otherwise your dentist may not be able to properly address future dental issues.

How to Reduce Your Risks with an Existing Piercing

Hopefully your piercer will have provided you with resources for how to prevent experiencing any of the risks listed above. But even if not, there are things you can do to help reduce your risk, and keep your mouth healthy:

Good Oral Hygiene

The number one way to reduce your risk of infection or other complications, is to continue to practice good oral hygiene. If you are not able to clean your teeth and gums properly with your hardware in place, it is wise to remove it, at least for one of your twice daily cleanings.

Avoid Contact with Teeth

Avoid fiddling with your hardware. This includes moving it around with your tongue, or allowing it to have contact with your teeth. Even if you don’t see them, tiny invisible cracks can develop on your teeth which will eventually lead to bigger problems.

Ensure Hardware is Properly in Place

Whether you wear a stud or a labret, ensuring that it is securely fastened is important. If your hardware is loose or faulty, it could cause damage to your teeth or gums. As well, it could pose a choking hazard if it suddenly comes off.

Remove Hardware When Necessary

As with brushing and flossing, you should remove your hardware any time you expect to be visiting your dentist. Removing it will allow the dentist or doctor to have a full view of your mouth and teeth. As well, all metallic objects must be removed in order to have X-rays taken. You should never have any ‘permanent’ hardware installed that cannot be easily removed in such circumstances.

When To See A Dentist

These days, it is becoming more and more the ‘norm’ for people to have facial and oral piercings. It is of the utmost importance that you not only continue to practice good oral hygiene. Also take every step to reduce your risk of developing infection or injury. If you have a piercing and something doesn’t feel right, you should see your Vancouver dentist immediately. Otherwise, you run the risk of permanent damage to your teeth and mouth. And while piercings are almost always impermanent, the damage they can cause may be!

If you have any questions or comments that any of our Vancouver, Kitsilano dentists can assist with, please call or email us anytime!




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Enhance Dental Centre

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Vancouver BC V6K 2E4

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