Not long ago we wrote about the connection between lip piercings and cracked teeth or gum disease. Before you think that tongue piercings are safer for your teeth, since the jewelry is further inside the oral cavity, consider this article. Studies done across the world are consistently demonstrating that the average tongue piercing leads to three times the ordinary number of cracked teeth and incidences of gum disease. So if you want to triple the chance that you’ll lose one or more teeth, oral piercings are the risk you’re looking for.
A report from the journal General Dentistry mentioning the hazards of tongue piercings is well reported on throughout cyberspace. Before you think that just this one credible source is warning of these problems, we’d like to share with you some other studies undertaken by military doctors across the world. Soldiers, pilots and sailors need to be in peak physical condition to perform their jobs well. Military dentists recognize this and are concerned about habits that might be detrimental to the health of their personnel. Since piercings tend to be found in young people, and the age of soldiers trends towards the low twenties, military institutions are an excellent source of reliable scientific study on this practice.
First is a 2008 study from Tel-Aviv University in the American Journal of Orthodontics. A study of three hundred young Israelis at a military dental facility focused on gum disease caused by piercings. They found that receding gums affecting multiple teeth were more common in patients with oral piercings. Gum recession directly leads to tooth pain and tooth loss.
Later, a 2010 French study from the journal Military Medicine cited the case of a NATO pilot and a review of the scientific literature. The doctors’ conclusion was: “Tongue piercing and wearing tongue jewelry have numerous adverse effects, especially frequent dental complications. If these complications do not result in death, they can generate sufficient pain to disturb the vigilance and concentration of pilots and can have a major impact on flight security.” In general, we like to tell our patients about habits that lead to “frequent dental complications.”
Finally, a 2012 German Army study in Clinical Oral Investigations looked at approximately one hundred soldiers, split between those with tongue piercings and those without. Most piercings had been in place for three years or more. Those with piercings had double or triple the number of cracked teeth or teeth with receding gums. We don’t need to describe the pain caused by a cracked tooth. We’ll just say that we hope you never experience this problem.
An article in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice put the issue of tongue piercing this way. After describing the complications that commonly result from oral piercings, the authors stated: “Tongue piercing is a personal decision, but it is important that patients are fully aware of possible oral health hazards.” Despite this statement, one study in Dental Traumatology found that about half the people who get tongue piercings were unaware or uninformed of the potential dental risks.
The Sacramento Dentistry Group wants you to be informed about matters affecting your dental health. If you are considering an oral piercing, recognize that potential complications include significant hazards to the health of your teeth, gums and tongue. You can also know that if your mouth succumbs to any of the problems we’ve mentioned, we’ll be here to help make the repair — hopefully after you’ve given up your piercing.