17 Jun 2012

I received a question about tongue piercing risks:

I wanted to ask about the tongue piercing. I've been doing research on it and I see that there are prons and cons of having it. I've done my research but I do value your opinion and expertise on any type piercing. Despite of everything that I've read and heard, (negative comments..i.e., chipped front teeth, nerve damage in the tongue, a permanent lisp) is there any reason a 44 yr young lady shouldn't get a tongue ring? Also, how do you feel about PTFE or Bioplast in the tongue after it's healed?

Take your time answering me back. I'm in no rush and I know you're busy. In the meantime, take care and God bless! T.

My reply:

Hi T.,

My 5 tongue piercingsI still wear all 5 of my tongue piercings and my dentist said my oral health is fantastic. He did wonder why (with 5 pieces of jewelry in my tongue) my teeth do not show evidence of damage. I explained it is because they're properly placed, I wear jewelry that fits the way it should, and I don't play with the jewelry or clack it against my teeth. If you are in good health and want a tongue piercing and will follow all the appropriate precautions, then it should be just fine.

This is a brochure I wrote for the Association of Professional Piercers that addresses the risks or oral piercings: http://www.safepiercing.org/piercing/oral-piercing-risks/

This is from my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing

Oral Piercing Risks

You should be aware of the dangers before you decide to get an oral piercing. Once you know what they are, you can take precautions to minimize them, but these piercings are not risk-free. If you have a history of bad teeth or problem gums, a tongue or lip piercing may be inadvisable.

Contrary to what many people think, infection is not the most common risk from oral piercings. The human mouth is not prone to infection because the lymphatic sys- tem, mucus membranes, and saliva provide formidable defenses. The biggest danger is damage to teeth, gums, and oral structures from jewelry. The delicate enamel on your teeth can get cracked or chipped if you play with your jewelry. Biting or click- ing jewelry often or hard—for fun or by accident—will result in wrecking ball fractures (small cracks in the teeth).1 Continuous pressure from hard metal can diminish the density of the underlying bone over time. Gum recession is caused by jewelry that is too big or improperly placed, or from excessive rubbing of hard metal against the deli- cate soft tissue of the palate or gums. Enamel, bone, and gum tissue do not regenerate. Damage to these oral structures is serious and irreversible.

The likelihood of such complications is dramatically reduced when you adhere to accepted practices, wear properly sized jewelry that does not rub inside your mouth, and avoid playing with it. For more information, see the APP’s brochure “Oral Piercing Risks and Safety Measures.”


Elayne Angel, Author
The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing
President, Association of Professional Piercers

[email protected]


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