The idea of a piercings is often exciting, cool and wild as many teenagers and rock star hopefuls envision themselves looking like their celebrity idols. However, the adrenaline rushed decision to jump into a chair and get a needle stuck though a body part is often done without the consideration of consequences. In the dental field, doctors like Drs.Versman, Heller, and Beckman see one too many patients with severe dental pain and deconstruction due to their tongue or lip piercing, and here in Denver, CO there is not a shortage of pierced patients.
Tongue piercings use a barbell like structure with balls protruding above and underneath the tongue. During normal motions like eating and talking as well as individuals playing with the ornament in their mouths, the friction of this barbell causes rubbing and pressure again gums and teeth. The top barbell about the tongue is often hit against the top teeth causing the teeth to shift. The pressure from the jewelry acts as if another tooth is trying to grow in, spreading the upper teeth away from another to make room and causing a gapped tooth grin. Even worse, the metal can fracture a tooth, and depending on the level of damage the tooth may even need to be replaced by a dental implant. If you are so unlucky to experience that fate and live in Aurora, Colorado, you may be reading this article in Periodontal Associates’ waiting room.
The barbell at the underside of the tongue is no better as the bottom cavity does not allow room for additional hardware. Whenever the tongue is at rest, the barbell pushes against the teeth and gums causing recession behind the central incisors. When gums are irritated with constant pressure and rubbing it wears the thin layers of healthy gum down. As recession increases the chances for sensitivity, infection, and tooth loss increase significantly. Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman often treat these patients with gum grafts trying to add more support and coverage for the tooth root to prevent further damage and pain. Lip piercings also result in gingival recession due to the constant chafing.
Piercings can do more damage than just physical and visible harm. The oral cavity is a dangerous place to host an infection. The mouth and gums are a gateway to the bloodstream and the rest of the body. Blood infections, also called septicemia, cause drops in blood pressure which can collapse veins and cause necrosis. In some cases, these oral infections can then lead to the amputations of fingers and toes due to the necrosis in those veins. Which makes you think, would you rather have metal in your tongue to play with or would you rather have a functioning hand?
Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman always stress to their patients to be wary of piercings as they can cause bleeding, pain, edema (swelling), tooth fractures as individuals bite the barbell and break off a piece of tooth, gingival trauma like recession, and difficulties eating and speaking. Unfortunately, many times they do not have the chance to warn them about these consequences until it is too late and they come into to our Aurora office as a patient. If you are having pain and having an oral piercing, please contact us today to schedule an appointment at Periodontal Associates. Also, if you do not experience any discomfort but you doing have a piercing in your lip or tongue, I strongly advise you to visit Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, or Dr. EricBeckman for a consultation to evaluate possible risk or recession.