A report in the January/February 2006 issue of General Dentistry, the AGD's clinical, peer-reviewed journal, says that body piercing especially that of the tongue is harmful and should be avoided whenever possible. Citing an example, the report describes the condition of a young girl, who got her tongue pierced.
There was massive scar tissue formation around the area that was pierced; the young woman felt that the lump was her second tongue. The mass appeared to decrease in size as oral hygiene improved. "Keep the wound clean. Make sure the bar is short so food and bacteria won't enter the site," advised Ellis Neiburger, DDS, lead author of the study. "Replace the metal barbell heads with plastic ones." Even though the current article commented on extreme case, it is possible that unclean piercing equipment can cause other infections, such as blood borne hepatitis. Melvin K. Pierson, DDS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson said that tongue piercing incidents are expected to increase in the age group of 21 to 31 years. "I see a lot of damage caused by piercing-tooth fractures, tooth chips. Patients don't see the relation between them and piercing, which weakens the tooth. The damage is almost always in the pre-molars, the middle teeth, almost parallel to the piercing. The best way to prevent damage is to not get your tongue pierced," he said. "I don't recommend piercing. Because of the risks associated with this unregulated procedure, if someone is considering an oral piercing, he or she should discuss it with their medical or dental professional."
Contact: Jaclyn Finneke
Academy of General Dentistry