Canadian dentists voice concern about oral piercings

The New Brunswick Dental Society has issued a warning about the risks of tongue, lip, and cheek oral piercings, explaining that these piercings can jeopardize health and urging those who already have them to remove them.

Anyone considering having an oral piercing done should consider the risks and be well-informed about the hazards involved, the society noted in a press release. The most obvious risk is infection or contracting a blood-borne disease such as herpes simplex virus; hepatitis B, C, D, and G; or HIV.

In addition, other bacteria can be introduced by handling the jewelry that has been inserted. Such infections can cause endocarditis, a serious inflammation of the heart valves or tissues.

Other hazards include nerve damage and possibly prolonged bleeding from punctured blood vessels. In some cases, the tongue can swell so much that the person's airway may become blocked.

The jewelry itself can cause chipped, cracked, or loose teeth, and damage fillings and crowns. Through contact with the gums, the jewelry can cause injuries that could result in receding gums, periodontal disease, and eventual tooth loss. It can also interfere with proper chewing, swallowing, and speaking clearly due to excessive production of saliva. Should the jewelry become loose, it poses a serious choking hazard and, if swallowed or aspirated, could result in surgery to remove it from either the digestive tract or lungs.

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