Oral piercings are in vogue, especially among the youth. As a form of self-expression, oral piercings come in a wide variety of styles to match different personalities. However, have you ever thought about what a dentist might say about oral piercings? Dr. Kami Hoss lends his thoughts on the matter.

The Skinny on Oral Piercings

“Body piercings are common,” Dr. Kami Hoss says. “But when it comes to piercings on the oral cavity, the risks are different, greater even.”

Dr. Kami Hoss points out the risk for infection, prolonged bleeding, and pain and swelling, to name a few. He explains these risks in detail below:

First, there is risk for infection. Why? Dr. Kami Hoss explains that the mouth contains millions of bacteria, so think of it as a hotbed for infection if you had a piercing done in unsanitary conditions. Make no mistake; an infection is no ordinary disease. If left neglected, it can be life threatening, which is why it must be treated promptly. If you’re unsure of what to do if you develop an infection, you can consult your dentist.

Next, an oral piercing can lead to prolonged bleeding in the area where the piercing was done. Of course, a little bleeding after the procedure is normal, but there is also a risk for serious blood loss, especially if it’s hard to control the bleeding. Again, you may consult your dentist on what you should do if you experience continuous bleeding in the area.

“To add on that point about getting an infection, your tongue can also swell.” Dr. Kami Hoss says, “A swollen tongue does not only feel uncomfortable, but it can potentially block your airways, restricting your breathing. That is a serious problem requiring emergency treatment.”

Additionally, oral piercings may put you or others at risk for hepatitis B, C, D, or G. This is according to the National Institutes of Health where oral piercings have been identified as one of the factors in transmitting such blood-borne diseases.

“Not many people know that there is a link between one’s dental and cardiovascular health,” Dr. Kami Hoss says. “But there is a growing body of research on the effects of oral health problems on the heart.”

Dr. Kami Hoss explains that bacteria, or an infection in the mouth, can find its way into the bloodstream, where it may pose a danger to the heart. For example, oral piercings may put you at risk for endocarditis, or inflammation of the heart’s inner lining. This occurs when bacteria attach itself to the heart valves after entering the bloodstream and traveling to the heart.

There’s also the matter of function. Oral piercings may interfere with chewing and swallowing. That small piece of jewelry in your mouth can also damage your teeth. The bottom line is this; there are many risks surrounding oral piercings. To be safe, it’s best to get educated by your dentist and to seek help at the first sign of a problem.

Stay tuned to this page to read more from Dr. Kami Hoss.