Will an oral piercing put my oral health at risk? | Dr. Colin Richman

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Will an oral piercing put my oral health at risk?

December 9, 2014

By: Dr. Andrea Abelman

If you’re considering getting your tongue or lip pierced, you may want to reconsider if you want to protect your health. Oral piercings can damage the teeth and the gums, potentially requiring interventions like restorative dentistry or gum disease treatment.

Infection can be a significant risk associated with oral piercings. The mouth provides the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive because it’s warm and moist. Any piercing can give the bacteria a site at which to proliferate. Possible consequences for a patient’s oral health include gum disease and tooth decay.

If gum disease does develop due in part to an oral piercing and it is not addressed right away, non-surgical gum treatment may be needed to reverse the damage. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be required.

A procedure like LANAP, in which a laser is used to remove diseased gum tissue, can help to eliminate the oral bacteria and promote reattachment of the gum tissue to the tooth.

In addition to increasing the risk of infection, the piercing can also injure the gum tissue or the tooth directly, again raising the possibility that the patient will need treatment from a periodontist or some other dental specialist.

For example, repeated clicking of the piercing against the teeth can chip or crack the tooth. Similarly, a piercing could cause lacerations to the gum tissue.

The process of getting an oral piercing can also lead to nerve damage, although this is a less common effect. Nonetheless, nerve damage can affect your ability to move your tongue as needed to chew and speak, for example.

Oral piercings can have significant consequences for your oral health, so if you are thinking about getting one, you should discuss it with your dentist before making that decision. If you already have a piercing you should talk to your dentist or periodontist to make sure that you are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of damage to your teeth or gums due to the piercing.

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Signs and Symptoms of Advanced Dental Disease Including Periodontal (Gum) Disease


Chronic disease anywhere in the body is insidious, thus advanced symptoms may only appear late after significant damage has occurred.

Warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease include:

- Redness, tenderness, pain, swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing or biting into an apple
- Insufficient long term flossing over a lifetime
- Receding gums, frequently described ‘getting long in the tooth’
- Teeth moving or shifting
- Loose teeth
- Appliances no longer fit comfortably
- Previous history of tooth loss including parents
- History of smoking, diabetes or other metabolic diseases