The use of intraoral jewelry and oral piercings have been gaining much popularity among adolescents. Surveys of adolescents and young adults age 13 to 29 report that about 25 to 35 percent have a body piercing at other body parts besides the ear lobe. However, despite the trendiness of this body art, it can cause several serious consequences that both the teenager and parents must understand.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recognizes the significance of educating the public on the health implications of oral jewelry or accessories and perioral/intraoral piercings.

Do Oral Piercings Lead to Injury and Disease?

Adolescents with oral piercings have higher risk of having oral infection, nerve damage, oral pain and swelling. The injuries linked with oral piercing vary, making such tiny fashion statement worth the risk.

In addition to a greater risk of oral injuries, adolescents with intraoral jewelry can face an increased risk of contracting a disease. Numerous studies have found that it can lead to gingivitis or gum inflammation, gum recession, metal allergies and cavities.

Tongue and lip piercings are strongly associated to gingival recession, based on a study. Gingival recession was apparent in seven to 50 percent of all patients with lip piercings and 37 to 46 percent of patients with tongue piercings.

Furthermore, oral piercings that involve the lips, tongue, uvula and cheeks have been linked with pathological conditions such as scar formation, tooth fractures, pain, infection, speech impediment, periodontal disease, hepatitis and Ludwig’s angina.

Life-threatening complications linked with oral piercings have been reported. This include bleeding, endocarditis, edema and airway obstruction. Also, the use of dental jewelrysuch as grills, has been found to cause periodontal issues and dental caries.

Unregulated piercing techniques and parlors have been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a possible route for disease transmission such as tetanus, tuberculosis and hepatitis, as well as the cause of bacterial endocarditis.

How to Deal with Your Child about Oral Piercings

The dangers presented by oral jewelry and piercings far outweigh the trendy benefits. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry strongly opposes the use of jewelry on oral tissues and the practice of oral piercings due to the possible pathological condition associated with these practices.

Talk to your child about the possible risks involved with piercings before getting one. Also, if he/she already has an oral piercing, be sure that they maintain it disinfected and clean, and that they removed it before joining any sports or activities involving direct contact, so they can avoid getting serious oral injury.