Many people love the idea of having an oral piercing. With time, they have become a global trend and a symbol of modernity, self-expression, and rebellion. However, most people are not familiarized with the possible difficulties and consequences that their incorrect care could have to their oral and general health. Thereby, in this article, we will review its basics, risks, and proper aftercare.

What Is an Oral Piercing?

As its name indicates, an oral piercing is the perforation and placement of jewelry and other devices in different places inside the oral cavity for cosmetic purposes.

Although the tongue and lips are the most common places for piercings, nowadays, people have them in other areas such as:

  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Chin
  • Lingual frenum
  • Maxillary frenum
  • Uvula
  • And their combinations

Usually, oral piercings consist of studs, rings, and pings of multiple sizes and materials that use jewelry at their most visible part.

Before Oral Piercing

Although piercings have been present for centuries in humans and animals, current investigations and studies have shown that these devices have many risks and possible complications. Therefore, if you do not have oral piercings yet, you should consider the following:

- Choose the right place 

The tongue and lips are the most frequent locations for oral piercing by far. However, these are essential structures in your mouth, filled with blood vessels, arteries, nerves, and veins. Thereby, you should try to locate the safest and less risky place for your tongue and lip piercing.

In the case of tongue piercing, placing it in the middle line is considered the safer place. This location is also called dorsoventral, and it avoids the most vital blood vessels that could cause bleeding and infections. Other locations have a higher risk of complications.

On the contrary, lip piercings have less risk of accidents. However, you should try to avoid direct damage to the lip, aiming for the corners.  

Furthermore, remember that your oral cavity is a place filled with bacteria and microorganisms. Thereby, your oral piercing should be located in an accessible location, easy to clean and remove.  

 - In a controlled environment with professionals

Most problems associated with oral piercings are the result of inexperienced and wrong procedure conditions. To avoid this, you should look for the following:

  • Search for experienced piercers with multiple procedures.
  • Find a piercing establishment with the appropriate hygienic measures.
  • Demand the correct sterilization process for all the equipment and instruments used during the procedure. That way, you make sure that you avoid the risk of infections with needles and other instruments.

- Not everyone is a candidate for oral piercing

Any perforation can end up in complications. Nonetheless, in the oral cavity, this is even more complex. Thereby, you must inform yourself about the risks and disadvantages of any oral piercing that your might face.

For instance, many oral or systemic conditions can prevent you from having perforations. Furthermore, some locations for these devices depend on anatomic structures that cannot be altered or damaged.

How Is It Done?

Professional piercers perform the procedure under local anesthesia, inserting a needle to create a channel through which the device passes.

After the perforation, piercers use a thick metal bar to allow healing and maintain the space. During this stage, you can experience some swelling and mild discomfort. However, it can be easily preventable with over-the-counter medication.

Finally, once the tissues are fully recovered, you can place your oral piercing jewelry with comfort and safety.

What Are The Risks of Oral Piercing?

As we mentioned before, your mouth is a place filled with microorganisms and bacteria. In consequence, infections are the most frequent complication risks associated with oral piercings. Moreover, the pierced tissues are mostly highly vascularized, with the risk of hemorrhage and spreading out bacteria through your blood into other places. Also, handling the ornaments with dirty hards and consuming some foods and drinks can induce contamination in the area.

Additionally, the piercing device can damage the gums and teeth and lead to periodontal disease, gum recessions, tooth fractures, drooling, and even teeth loosening. This is particularly frequent with metallic jewelry.

cracked teeth

Finally, there is also the risk of swallowing and obstructing the airway with the piercing.

Aftercare of Oral Piercing

Once your procedure is done, you should clean and disinfect the area with mouthwash until the healing process is complete. Also, during this time, you should avoid the following:

  • Smoking and drinking.
  • Placing any foreign object in your mouth.
  • Moving and crashing the piece around to avoid creating habits and damaging your teeth and gumvisit dentist

Moreover, once the process is finished, your daycare should include:

  • Keep your hygienic oral habits such as brushing, flossing, and mouth washing every day.
  • Maintain close communication with your dentist if you notice swelling, pain, fever, or red zones around your piercing.
  • Keep the zone and your piercing clean at all times.
  • Remove the device if you are going to practice sports.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.

--- By Dr. Samuel I A Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) from Central University of Venezuela. He is also the Member of the National College of Dental Surgeon of Venezuela. Boasts almost 10 years experience in general dentistry.



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- Inchingolo, Francesco et al. 2011. “Oral Piercing and Oral Diseases: A Short Time Retrospective Study.” International Journal of Medical Sciences 8(8).

- Levin, Liran, Yehuda Zadik, and Tal Becker. 2005. “Oral and Dental Complications of Intra-Oral Piercing.” Dental Traumatology 21(6).

- “Policy on Intraoral/Perioral Piercing and Oral Jewelry/Accessories.” 2018. Pediatric dentistry 40(6).

- Schmidt, Julia Caroline, Salvatore Calderaro, Roland Weiger, and Clemens Walter. 2019. “On the Association between Oral Piercings and Periodontal Conditions—A Case Series.” International Journal of Dental Hygiene 17(4).

- Yu, Catherine H.Y., Brian J. Minnema, and Wayne L. Gold. 2010. “Bacterial Infections Complicating Tongue Piercing.” Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology 21(1).

- Ziebolz, Dirk et al. 2009. “Complications of Tongue Piercing: A Review of the Literature and Three Case Reports.” Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice 10(6).

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