frequently asked questions

Tongue piercing - is it really cool?



No, not at all!

Tongue ringsYou might not be surprised to see people with pierced tongues, lips, or cheeks anymore, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous these piercings can be for your child. The piercing establishments and their operators are generally not licensed or regulated by law in most states.

Unlike other forms of piercing, tongue piercing procedures carry the increased risk of severe bleeding because the tongue has major blood vessels within it. Bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle. Many tongue piercing operators are not usually aware of this and can accidentally rupture these major blood vessels. They are usually not prepared and will not know what to do in case of a problem.

There are many risks involved with oral piercings including chipped or cracked teeth, and very serious systemic conditions such as blood clots, excessive hemorrhaging, or blood poisoning. There is a high risk of your child contracting hepatitis and AIDS since many piercing parlors do not maintain a clean environment or properly sterilize the equipment that they use to pierce the tongue. Allergic reactions to metals that are not of the highest quality can result. Tongue jewelry can come loose, be swallowed, and severe choking can occur.

Pediatric Dentists recommend that if your child insists on having his/her tongue pierced that plastic jewelry be used in order to prevent cracking and/or fracture of the tooth enamel.

Metal tongue jewelry can cause severe damage to the surrounding teeth. Metal jewelry can chip and/or break the enamel of your child's teeth, most commonly the upper front teeth. Fillings can also be broken or chipped as your child talks or eats. Chronic trauma to the teeth can ultimately cause the nerve of your child's tooth to die. This may result in the future need for a very expensive root canal and/or possibly even more expensive cosmetic dentistry such as a crown to restore your child's smile.

Your child's mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. His/her tongue could also swell so much that it could close off the airway!

Common symptoms after tongue piercing include pain, severe swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva, and injuries to gum tissue.

So follow the advice of the American Dental Association:
Skip the mouth jewelry!

"Tongue piercing identified as culprit in extreme facial pain"
San Francisco Chronicle 10/2006
By Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

"Extreme side effects of tongue piercing are irritation of nerves that spread pain throughout the face and head. Mouth jewelry can irritate a nerve running along the jaw under the tongue. This nerve is connected to the trigeminal nerve, one of the largest in the head. There have been reports of people dropped to their knees by trigeminal neuralgia.

Other problems include tetanus, heart infections, brain abscess, chipped teeth, and receding gums."
"The tongue is a particularly dangerous place to pierce because it is rich in blood vessels that can spread infection to major organs and because it is near important nerves and the upper airway."

It has been highly recommended that young adults see only professional, experienced piercers and use only "implant grade" metal jewelry. Very good oral hygiene is very important while the mouth heals after any piercing.



Doctor Wang, Doctor Perea-Corkish, Doctor Gerodias and the other Doctors of Discovery Pediatric Dentistry make no warranties, expressed or implied, as to any results to be obtained from use of the information "What should I do in a Dental Emergency." We cannot diagnose or treat patients over the Internet. Information on this site is for educational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for personal, medical, and/or dental attention or diagnosis. Without all available information about a patient, it is impossible to make a diagnosis. Help and answers are in the form of general ideas. Only you, your dentist, and other necessary and qualified health care providers can make an appropriate treatment decision in an emergency or for everyday care and dental treatment.

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