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Warning: Tongue piercings affect speech, sense of taste and cause drooling

Dentists are warning young people about the risks of oral piercings, especially when getting them done abroad or at music festivals.

Image: Tongue piercing via Shutterstock

DENTISTS ARE WARNING young people about the “significant risk” to their health posed by oral piercings which in extreme cases result in life-threatening illnesses and infections.

The Irish Dental Association (IDA) said that some issues may arise from piercings including the transfer of diseases such as Hep B, C and D, Endocarditis (inflammation in the heart), gum disease, nerve or tooth damage and allergic reactions to metals.

The IDA said that its members see an increase in the number of young patients presenting with oral piercing related issues between August and December every year.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be due to young people attending music festivals such as Oxegen, going on holiday with their friends and also students preparing to start college,” the association said in a statement.

President of the IDA, Dr Sean Malone, said that the bottom line is that “anyone who gets an oral piercing will damage their oral health” and that damage will be irreversible.

Malone said that the risk of infection is heightened when people decide to get a piercing done abroad or at a music festival as the standards of hygiene may be lacking.

One of the more painful and unpleasant aspects of oral jewellery happens when the gums recede, the association said. In order to correct receding gums the patient must undergo painful grafting of the gum, a treatment which will help to alleviate some pain and infection but it can never return the gum to full health.

Other consequences of piercings may include some of the following;

  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing food
  • Chipped or damaged teeth
  • Gum loss
  • Sense of taste can be altered
  • Temporary or permanent drooling
  • Difficulties cleaning the jewellery
  • Overgrowth around the piercing
  • Swelling and bleeding
  • Difficulty with head/oral x-rays

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