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The desire to express oneself is at an all-time high. More and more people of all ages are opting to change their hair color and styles, display tattoos, and get piercings. In recent years, piercing one’s lips, cheeks or tongue has become a statement of individuality and self-expression.

However, oral piercing comes with some significant hazards. Obviously, one of those hazards is pain, but there are also increased risks of infection, swelling, and injuries to the gums. The mouth is already home to a great deal of bacteria. When a wound is created in a person’s mouth via a piercing, the risk of infection is greater than normal. A primary source of such infections may include the act of piercing, itself. If the piercing is not done with sterile equipment, or the jewelry itself is of low quality or is dirty, or is handled with dirty hands, infection becomes a serious possibility. If a blood vessel is hit when the piercing is being done, serious bleeding can result.

When the tongue is pierced there is a danger that the “barbell” will push a person’s lower teeth out of alignment, and could chip the wearer’s front teeth.

Piercings can cause an increase in saliva, and can inhibit a person’s ability to eat and speak. People with oral piercings could be at a heightened risk for hepatitis B, C, D, and G; and endocarditis. Endocarditis is an inflammation of the valves and tissues of the heart.

If you are considering piercing your lips, cheeks or tongue, you should talk with your dentist first. It is important that you understand all of the risks involved, and that you understand the kind of care you will have to take if decide to have part of your mouth pierced.

For more information about oral piercings or other dental issues; or if you would just like an exam and a cleaning, our dentist, Dr. James C. Ma at James C. Ma in Tulare, California, would like the chance to talk with you. To make an appointment, call us today at 559-688-4111.