Question: My teenage daughter came home with a tongue piercing. How can I help her to see that this can be bad for her?
Answer: Piercing, like tattooing, is one of today's popular forms of "body art" and self-expression. Piercing may seem daring, cool and totally safe because some celebrities use body piercing to flaunt their particular style or attitude. Hip fashion magazines and videos tout it - that is until it's no longer deemed the "in thing" and something else comes along to replace it.
Here is the piercing truth about mouth jewelry
The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Touching the mouth jewelry is a perfect opportunity for bacteria from the hands to enter piercing sites. Food particles collecting around piercing sites can also lead to infection.
Pain and swelling are other possible side effects of piercing. The tongue - the most popular piercing site in the mouth - could swell large enough to close off the airway! Accidentally, piercing the tongue's blood vessels can cause serious blood loss.
The hoop, ring, stud and barbell-shaped jewelry can also hinder one's ability to talk and eat. Some people develop a habit of "playing" with the barbells, which can lead to cracked or scratched teeth, gum damage and sensitive teeth. This may require expensive dental treatment.
A young woman created a mid-line gap between her upper front teeth by "playing" with the barbell-shaped stud against her teeth every day for seven years (see photos). This required braces to correct, costing thousands of dollars.
So the potential hazards of mouth piercing can be: infection; pain and swelling; increased saliva; uncontrollable bleeding or nerve damage; injuries to the gum tissue; blood poisoning or blood clots; choking on studs, barbells or hoops that come loose in your mouth; and teeth can chip, crack or move in unsightly ways when they come in contact with the jewelry.
Maybe this will help your daughter to see how the piercing will be an added responsibility that needs constant attention and upkeep. So ask her to skip the mouth jewelry and instead let a healthy smile make her fashion statement!
As always, Dr. Bhatia is happy to answer any additional questions. Send them to her at Kihei Orthodontics, 1280 S. Kihei Road, Suite 206, or visit www.kiheiorthodonticsmaui.com.
Dr. Bhatia has completed two full years of specialty training in orthodontics after obtaining her degrees in Pediatric Dentistry and General Dentistry. "Orthodontics is not part of what we do - it's all that we do!"