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The Piercing Truth About Mouth Jewelry

January 31, 2013
Dr. Sujata Bhatia - Orthodontist , The Maui Weekly

Q: My teenage daughter came home with a tongue piercing. How can I help her to see that this can be bad for her?

A: 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:

Article Photos

A young woman created a midline gap between her upper front teeth by “playing” with the barbell-shaped stud against her teeth every day for seven years. This required braces to correct, costing thousands of dollars.

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.

The potential hazards of piercing:


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;

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 piercing will be an added responsibility that needs constant attention and upkeep. Ask her to skip the mouth jewelry and instead let a healthy smile make her fashion statement!

Contact Dr. Bhatia at or Kihei Orthodontics is located at 1280 S. Kihei Road, Ste. 206, in Kihei.



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