Tongue Piercing

There has been an upsurge in the amount of teenagers getting tongue piercings.  Teenagers often view these piercings as a harmless expression of their growing individuality.  Oftentimes, parents allow teens to pierce their tongues because the metal bar is impermanent.  In addition, tongue bars are not as visually apparent as a tattoo or eyebrow piercing might be.

Unfortunately, tongue piercings can have a serious (even deadly) impact on health.  Pediatric dentists routinely advise adolescents to avoid intraoral or perioral piercings for a number of good reasons.

Why is tongue piercing harmful?

First, there are a growing number of unlicensed piercing parlors in throughout the country.  Such parlors have been recognized as potential transmission vectors for tetanus, tuberculosis, and most commonly - hepatitis.  Second, a great number of painful conditions can result from getting a tongue piercing (even in a licensed parlor).  These conditions include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Blood clots
  • Blood poisoning
  • Brain abscess
  • Chronic pain
  • Damaged nerves (trigeminal neuralgia)
  • Fractured/cracked teeth
  • Heart infections
  • Hypersensitivity reactions (to the metal bar)
  • Periodontal disease/gum recession
  • Problems enunciating
  • Scarring

What are the most common tongue piercing problems?

To pierce a tongue, the body piercer must first hold it steady with a clamp.  Next, a hollowed, pointed metal needle is driven through the tongue.  Finally, the piercer attaches the tongue bar to the bottom end of the needle, and then drags it upwards through the tongue.  Two metal screw-on balls are then used to secure the tongue bar.

Most commonly, severe pain and swelling are experienced for several days after the piercing episode.  Moreover, the new holes in the tongue are especially infection-prone, because the oral cavity is home to many bacteria colonies.  In the medium term, saliva production may increase as the body responds to a completely unnatural entity in the mouth.

Are there long-term problems associated with tongue piercing?

Long-term problems with tongue piercings are very common.  The screw-on balls constantly scrape against tooth enamel, making teeth susceptible to decay and gums susceptible to periodontal disease.  Soft tissue can also become infected in specific areas, as the tongue bar continues to rub against it.

If the tongue bar is inappropriately long, it can get tangled around the tongue or teeth.  In a similar way to an earring getting ripped out of the ear, a tongue bar can be ripped out of the tongue.  This is extremely painful, as well as difficult to repair.

In sum, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises against any type of oral piercing, and so does the pediatric dentist.

If you are a concerned parent, or would like the pediatric dentist to speak with your teen about tongue piercing, please contact our office.

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100% recommend this dentist! I am from out of town and was camping, and woke up with exploding pain in my jaw. Dr. Chisholm saw me on short notice on a Friday afternoon, did a thorough examination, and found out my problems were in my jaw, not in my teeth. He ground down an existing crown to make my bite even, And I experienced immediate relief. He could have charged an arm and a leg but was conscientious of my financial status and luckily didn’t even need to do x-rays. He recommended a chiropractic jaw adjustment, which I appreciate immensely. He’s very personable and it took time to sit and talk with me and make sure I understood everything. You will be in good hands with Dr. Chisholm!

Suzette S.

Great dentists. Worked well with my kids.

I had a crown. There were a few things that made it better than my last 3 crowns at 2 different dentists. First is that it was pain free. He did a good job at numbing. A few uncomfortable moments but no grip the chair in pain moments like I'd had with other crowns. The other was he used a dental dam. Kind of annoying for breathing and clamping on tooth not fun, but I have silver fillings and the dam prevented the silver (with mercury) from getting lodged in my mouth (one prior dentists i had to stop and fish a piece of filling from the back of my throat).

Cost is on par with other dentists I would have expected a bit cheaper due to the location but on par nonetheless.

Aaron S.

Very friendly and they do great work.

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Contact Us. We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.