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The Dangers of Oral Piercing

Oral piercing and tongue splitting is growing in popularity, and if your teen has been considering either one, make an appointment with your dentist who can help point out the dangers of this growing fad.

Tongue splitting, bifurcation or forking began in the 1990’s and was rarely heard of until the later part of the decade becoming the most common and popular alteration when it comes to body modification. Tongue splitting involves the tongue being cut right down the middle from the tip to the back at the base of the tongue.

Your dentist will tell you that oral piercing on the other hand is just like ear or belly button piercing in that the cheek, tongue, lip and even the back of the throat, the uvula, are pierced.

According to Web MD, there are several health risks involved including infections, broken teeth, disease transmission, nerve damage, gum disease, endocarditis and excessive bleeding. Other problems that could occur include metal allergies, difficulty chewing, talking, swallowing, and jewelry aspiration.

Because the wound is created by piercing, it is highly susceptible to infection. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, which are increased after the piercing, and the jewelry is put into place.

Oral piercing creates a higher risk when it comes to transmitting diseases such as hepatitis B and C and herpes.

Because the wound is made by piercing, there is a chance that bacteria could enter your bloodstream. If that occurs you could develop endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart valves and the heart itself. This is especially dangerous if a person who has had the piercing is unaware of an undiagnosed heart problem.

Some people who have had oral piercing complain of a loss of sensation or numbness where the piercing took place. In pierced tongues, the blood vessels can be punctured right along with the nerve causing excessive and prolonged bleeding. In some cases, the sensation never comes back making it nearly impossible to taste or feel anything that comes into contact with the tongue.

People who have tongue piercings and wear barbells, the long-stem type of tongue jewelry that is so popular, have a huge risk of gum disease as the jewelry comes into contact with gum tissue that could lead to receding gums followed by tooth loss. 

In a recent dental journal, it was discovered that 47 percent of people who wear tongue jewelry for four years or more have had to deal with chipped teeth.

Jewelry aspiration occurs when the jewelry becomes loose making it a choking hazard, and if the jewelry is swallowed, it could result in injuries to the lungs or digestive tract.

If you would like more information regarding oral piercing and tongue splitting schedule an appointment for your teen and ask your dentist to help explain the dangers of this popular yet risky trend.