Oral piercings are a popular cosmetic and fashionable choice. Some believe these can look fantastic and that they may even feel that it can provides some sensory benefits. As such, you might be thinking about getting oral piercings yourself. However one of the things that you often won’t hear about is the issues they can create when you’re in the middle of orthodontic treatment.
There is actually a wide range of different piercings that are inserted in oral locations that will impact your oral health. These include…
- Tongue piercings
- Lip piercings
- Cheek piercings
- Muscle attachment piercings
When you choose an oral piercing you will be inserting a piece of metal permanently into your mouth.
This is a foreign object and can lead to a range of different dental impacts.
If you have been thinking about getting a piercing, or if you already have one or more, there are some health risks you should know about.
It’s important to know the risks involved with oral piercings such as:
- Chipped teeth
- Gum damage
- Nerve damage
- Loss of taste
- Tooth loss
Infections caused by oral piercings
Everyone likes to think they have a clean mouth, however, on average 800 to 1,000 different bacteria may call your mouth “home”, and when you get an oral piercing the open wound gives these bacteria a direct route to your bloodstream.
As a result infection is a common complication of oral piercings.
Many people who have piercings tend to regularly touch them, paving the way for bacteria to enter piercing sites.
In addition, food particles that collect around piercing sites can also lead to infection.
Besides hindering your ability to talk and eat, oral piercings also lead people to develop a habit of biting or playing with their piercings, which can lead to cracked or fractured teeth.
While the fracture can be confined to the enamel of the tooth and require a simple filling, you also run the risk of the fracture going deep into the tooth, which may require a root canal, tooth extraction, and additional dental treatment.
If you still decide to get an oral piercing, you should realise that it will take some time to heal (anywhere between four to six weeks) and it may be very uncomfortable.
Also please keep in mind that it will be an added responsibility, as it will require regular upkeep.
You need to ensure you are prepared and committed to the task of taking care of it for the full healing period and beyond.
Clean the piercing with antiseptic mouthwash after eating and brush the jewellery each time you brush your teeth.
Another issue that can slow down orthodontic progress is gum damage.
An estimated 35% of people will have issues with receding gums after they have piercings for more than four years.
“On average 800 to 1,000 different bacteria may call your mouth “home”, and when you get an oral piercing the open wound gives these bacteria a direct route to your bloodstream.”
This leaves the dentin exposed and does present the potential risk of more infections.
A tongue piercing may damage either the front or the back of the gums depending on the positioning and it’s also possible for this condition to get significantly worse if it is not treated leading to periodontitis.
Here the gums and the bone pull away from the teeth. When this happens, pockets are left that may cause the teeth to simply fall out.
Be aware that issues like this may even call into question whether it is possible for you to get orthodontic work at all due to the damage caused.
Piercings Cause Issues With Enamel
Grinding your teeth together will eventually overtime wear away the enamel.
The enamel is the outer layer of your tooth and the more it wears away, the more it leaves your tooth exposed to develop issues with tooth sensitivity and the increased risk of developing tooth decay.
A similar issue can occur when you have an oral piercing.
You might develop the habit of rubbing the piercing against your teeth and this will cause your enamel to wear.
Damaging Your Braces
The pieces of metal that are used for a piercing can be quite heavy and tough.
Therefore it’s possible that they can cause damage in your mouth.
If you have braces, you might find that the piercing does knock a bracket lose or it could even get caught on the wiring of the brace.
This is not a pleasant experience at all and will typically need to be corrected by an orthodontist.
If your braces are damaged and you don’t notice it, it may cause an increase in the duration of your braces treatment plan.
Issues With Appointments
When you are getting orthodontic work completed, one of the key elements is always going to be x-rays.
X-rays ensure that an orthodontist will be able to quickly identify the current issues with your teeth and the work that needs to be completed.
Metal in your mouth may interfere with x-rays.
As such, it will typically be necessary for appointments to be longer and often more intensive if you have an oral piercing.
Long Term Issues
After you have completed your full orthodontic treatment, you will want to make sure that your teeth stay in place and don’t revert back.
That’s why it’s important to wear a retainer through the night. However, with an oral piercing, this retainer can get either damaged or knocked out of place.
This may make it more difficult to keep your teeth in the right position, causing you to need further treatment to correct this issue.
While being undergoing orthodontic treatment even things as hard as an apple have the potential to dislodge brackets and bend arch wires.
When the jewellery in your mouth gets hooked to your braces, it can happen so fast that before you know it, you’ve either broken your braces or your jewellery has torn from your tongue or lip which as you can imagine, is not a pretty sight.
Keep in mind if you’re considering an oral piecing that aside from the potential health impact, damaged braces or significant oral trauma has the potential to add months to your orthodontic treatment.