In today’s society, oral piercing is considered by some, particularly the older generation, as a form of rebellion or deviance while others consider it a form of self-expression through body art. While there have been debates that oral piercing, as well as other types of piercing, is associated with psychological health, one thing is for certain
It affects oral health in the long run
Oral piercings involve areas like the lips, cheeks, tongue and uvula. Usually, these piercings are done without the help of anaesthetics, using a barbell-shaped piece of jewellery to traverse through the chosen area. For tongue piercings, a temporary longer device is initially used to prevent the hole from closing and to convenience eventual swelling.
The open end of the stud is then inserted in a ventral-dorsal position, where the lock is screwed on to it between the mandibular and maxillary anterior teeth. Some opt to have the piercing installed laterally, aligning it to the dorsolateral lingual surface. Typically, the piercing wound heals after four to six weeks, should complications not arise.
Another form of oral art is tongue splitting, where the tongue is literally split into two pieces to create an appearance that is “forked”. There have been reports that various techniques are used to do this, including rather primitive ones where a cauterizing pen is used after a scalpel, or a fishing line that is threaded through an existing tongue piercing and pulled forward, which then severs that anterior aspect. The tongue pieces are then kept apart so they can heal as two separate pieces.
When it comes to cheek or lip piercing, usually a piece of jewellery is placed in the labret area and is positioned intra-orally based on the recipient’s aesthetic preferences. Once the desired position is determined, a cork-like device is inserted into the mouth to serve as support on the receiving end of the needle once it is pierced through flesh. Once this is done, a labret stud is used to replace the needle and the cork backing is screwed on to the side which is inside the mouth. This type of piercing may take weeks or months to heal.
There are numerous varied intraoral and perioral complications from oral piercings, although available scientific literature is quite limited. Common symptoms that initially follow the act of piercing are pain, infection, swelling and increased flow of the saliva. These symptoms can be telling of the following complications:
Infection is mainly caused by the intensification of stab wounds, bacteria in the mouth and bacteria worn by jewellery. Because the tongue is vascular in nature, the way the jewellery is inserted can break or scratch the front teeth. Bacteria in the mouth form a biofilm on the surface of the jewellery, forming colonies, making the bacteria resistant to certain antibiotics and mouthwashes. In addition, digitally processed jewellery can increase the chance of infection from the chemicals it comes into contact with.
The National Institutes of Health further confirmed that blood-borne hepatitis B and C and the spread of the herpes simplex virus pose a potential risk of oral puncture. The spread of other diseases, such as the spread of tetanus and local tuberculosis, is also related to ear perforations.
Endocarditis bacteria that enter the bloodstream can also eventually lead to endocarditis, which is inflammation of the heart or valves. People with underlying heart problems are at greater risk, and some of them may not have symptoms and have never been diagnosed. Endocarditis has also been associated with perforated ears and nostrils.
Nerve damage or prolonged bleeding-nerve damage can cause loss of sensation or numbness in the perforated area and movement problems (for tongue perforations). If a blood vessel is pierced, it can cause prolonged bleeding. If the swelling of the tongue becomes so severe that it blocks the airways of the recipient, there is also a risk of breathing difficulties.
People with a perforated mouth, especially those with long stems, have increased risk factors for gum disease. The dumbbell-shaped studs can hit and damage the gums, causing it to dent and eventually loosen or even fall out. The study reports that the most common places for oral perforations are lips and tongue. Tongue puncture can damage the gums of the front and back teeth, while lip puncture can damage the gums of the front teeth.
Jewellery piercings can cause teeth to flake or crack. A dental magazine previously reported that about 47% of people used dumbbell-shaped jewellery in the oral cavity for at least four years, and at least one tooth was broken.
Difficulty in daily oral function
Tongue puncture can interfere with normal daily functions, resulting in difficulties in chewing and swallowing food. As we all know, motor skills can also be affected. Because piercing jewellery stimulates and worsens saliva secretion, it usually prevents the recipient from speaking clearly. This can also cause temporary or permanent drooling. The result also found a change in taste.
Metal allergic reaction – Allergic contact dermatitis is a hypersensitivity reaction to metal jewellery, known to occur with piercings. Secondary infections caused by oral punctures can be very serious. According to a report in the British Journal of Dentistry, Ludwig’s angina pectoris is cellulite that affects the sublingual, submandibular and sub seal spaces on both sides, spreads quickly, and appears a few days after the patient’s puncture. She must be intubated to clear the airway. The patient did not respond to antibiotics, so surgery was necessary to remove the jewellery and control the swelling of the mouth.
perforated jewellery that is loose in the mouth can be a choking hazard and if swallowed it can also cause damage to the digestive tract or lungs. In addition, oral decorations can hide X-ray abnormalities and anatomical structures, hindering dental diagnosis. There is also a theory that the electrical current generated by stainless steel jewellery that comes into contact with metal in the mouth can also cause pulp sensitivity.
When treating patients who are considering treatment while still considering health risks, dental professionals should advise patients to ensure that the studs, needles, and other instruments used are properly sterilized. Patients are advised to obtain a health certificate from the perforation studio to ensure that all staff are knowledgeable and disease-free. For patients who have had oral perforations, it is recommended that they are monitored regularly to ensure optimal oral health.