New research by The Oral Health Foundation has highlighted the risks associated with oral piercings.
They found that 43% of people with oral piercings choose to have their tongue pierced. A third of those had a lip piercing, with cheek and gum piercings coming in at 3% and 7% retrospectively.
Research also showed that 13% of those with oral piercings had more than one – indicating the current popularity of the trend.
The dental charity is urging those planning on getting an oral piercing to consider the risks associated and to be aware of the potential health problems that could arise.
CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, said:
“Not everybody realises the potential long and short term damages that [oral piercings] can have on our mouths.
“Oral piercings are a major cause of chipped or cracked teeth due to trauma when they come into contact with the teeth; many people even have a habit of biting or playing with their piercing which can be extremely dangerous and can often lead to extensive dental work.
“The mouth also contains a huge amount of bacteria and is an ideal place for infection to arise, this is especially the case with new piercings as it is an open wound and needs constant care and attention to prevent infection. An infection can quickly lead to other more serious conditions such as blood poisoning (septicaemia).
“The act of getting a piercing is itself very dangerous as if done incorrectly can cause issues such as permanent numbness of the tongue, blood loss, excessive swelling which affects breathing and swallowing and and in severe cases and increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis B.”
The Oral Health Foundation advises people to keep piercings as clean as possible using an antiseptic mouthwash.
Try to avoid playing with piercings and be careful to ensure they do not come into contact with teeth, which could lead to tooth wear and dental intervention. When playing sports, it’s wise to remove your jewellery, and continue to visit your dentist for regular check ups.