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Piercings have become commonplace and the mouth and lips are no exception. But there are slight risks with having piercings including Infections.

The piercing creates a wound which normal bacteria in the mouth can enter, and the introduction of additional bacteria from the jewellery can increase the risk of infections.  There is potential risk of the transmission of the herpes simplex and hepatitis B and C. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the wound and lead to endocarditis – an inflammation of the heart or its valve. This can occur in certain people with underlying (and often undiagnosed) heart problems.

Other Risks

At the site of piercing nerve damage, numbness, loss of sensation or movement can happen in the tongue if the nerves have been damaged. If blood vessels are punctured prolonged bleeding can occur. Tongue swelling can be severe enough to block the airway and cause difficulty in breathing.  People with oral piercings — especially long-stem tongue jewellery (barbells) — have a greater risk of gum disease than those without oral piercings. The jewellery can come into contact with gum tissue causing injury as well as a recession of the gum tissue, which can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. Chips or cracks can arise in teeth that come into contact with mouth jewellery. Tongue piercing can result in having difficulty with chewing and swallowing food and speaking clearly. Temporary or permanent drooling is another consequence of increased saliva production and taste can also be altered. This is because the jewellery stimulates an excessive production of saliva. Some people experience a hypersensitivity reaction to metal — called allergic contact dermatitis.  Jewellery that becomes loose in the mouth can become a choking hazard and, if swallowed, can result in injury to the digestive track or lungs.


Last updated: March 13, 2014

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