When fashion, rebelliousness, and risks play a role in oral health.
It is well known that, in the early 90's, piercings began to stand out as a movement of rebellion and fashion among young people. Some studies show a trend that involves 16% of our young people between 15 and 18 years of age. It presents a mostly male tendency (reaching almost 70% of the sample under study).
This article aims to help you in your decision making. On the one hand, by informing you about the risks of wearing a tongue piercing. On the other hand, we help you to minimize complications if you have already made the decision to wear it.
The word piercing comes from Pierce, which means to pierce, perforate, pierce a body tissue, that is, the skin and adjacent layers, with the purpose of inserting a metal object that serves as a earring
There are several theories about the beginning of piercing.
Some authors attribute its origin to South American tribes, where lip piercing was a symbol of power among the males of a population.
The different types of jewelry and piercings served to mark the hierarchy within the tribe.
In cultures such as the Maya or the Aztecs, tongue piercings had a symbolic connotation: young people symbolized their passage to adulthood in this way.
These piercings were understood as a sign of courage, of denial of fear of death or physical pain.
Others attribute it to the Eskimos, who employed and identified them as "labrets".».
Young people used them as a symbol of leaving childhood and becoming responsible adults. With qualities and aptitudes to go out hunting with their elders.
Tongue piercing today.
Nowadays, 97% of the young people surveyed decide to wear this accessory for purely aesthetic purposes.
Like any other accessory, there is an almost infinite variety of types of piercings and they are subject to the fashions and trends of the moment.
A small part of them wear it as a symbol of belonging to a certain urban tribe.
Other motivations are:
- Personal history: Personal catharsis or expression of values, important experiences, group affiliation, etc.
- Protest: Especially in adolescents, against parents, authorities or society and spirituality.
- Tradition: culture, sex and fashion.
The risks of getting a mouth piercing
The inevitable desire for emancipation and autonomy, by a critical attitude towards established values, such as an identification with the group, an absence of future projection or an attraction to risk.
Thus, like many other acts of rebellion against the established, it is characteristic of adolescence.
Anyone who wants to get a tongue piercing should be aware of the risks involved, as well as the advice on how to use them. la utilización de los mismos.
There are different reports showing several pathological conditions associated with them, such as:
- Galvanic currents
- Ludwig's angina
- Fractured teeth
- Disease transmission
- Alterations in speech, chewing, swallowing.
- Metal allergies
- Mucogingival trauma and gingival recession.
- Foreign body reactions
Aspirations and ingestions
The abnormal accumulation of fluid under the skin causes swelling. An edematous tongue due to perforation with a metallic or plastic object can make feeding difficult, compromise speech or even breathing.
Of the possible complications, pain is the most frequent. It is usually more exaggerated in patients with lingual frenulum.
The time required for symptoms to completely subside after a tongue piercing is estimated to be between 3 and 5 weeks.
Within 6-8 hours after a tongue piercing, the surrounding tissues begin to swelland the process increases over the next 3-4 days.
The submental and submandibular ganglions may also be enlarged by the inflammatory process. These effects may last a few weeks until the healing process is completely concluded.
Patients may show hypersensitivity to amalgam restorations in contact with the piercing metal.
One option is to remove the piercing or to assess the condition of the amalgams and replace them with another material.
Inflammation of the floor of the mouth usually caused by bacterial infections, often by infections of the teeth or injuries in the mouth. They can produce an obstruction of the airway, requiring prompt professional attention.
This bacterial infection is mainly due to hemolytic Streptococcus..
It may occur immediately after intraoral perforation, causing diffuse cellulitis of the floor of the mouth and suprahyoid region affecting the connective tissue and rapidly spreading to the submadibular, submental and sublingual region.
This infection can hinder speech, swallowing and breathing, even compromising the patient's life, so urgent treatment is essential..
It is one of the most common complications of tongue piercing.
The fact of pushing, playing and biting the piercing, or simply having a foreign object in the mouth can cause fractures, fissures, abrasions or detachment of enamel spicules, which can compromise the pulp, causing pain to the touch, pressure or simply cold, sweet and friction.
Some studies showed that 80% of people who had or have had a piercing presented some alteration of the dental structure..
The mouth is a cavity that contains a large amount of bacteria, which, proportionally, depends on the patient's hygiene, causing great variations in oral health.
Some of the bacteria found in the oral cavity are: Firmicutes mainly of the genera -Streptococcus and Veillonellas-; Proteobacteria especially -Neisseria-; Bacteroides - Prevotella- and Actinobacteria -Micrococcineae-.
In case of not having a very good oral hygiene, they can conjugate and make colonies that predispose an infection in the wound caused by the perforation.
Between 10 and 20% of all piercings become locally infected.
The most frequent causative agents are Sthapylococcus Aureus, group A Streptococcus and Pseudomonas.
If symptoms of bacteremia such as fever, chills, shivering and redness around the recent puncture appear , medical attention should be sought.
Piercings can cause serious infection of the valvular endocardiumin people with previous cardiac disorders.
A small number of cases of fulminant hepatitis have been reported following piercing. However, there are few studies confirming the risk of disease transmission related to this practice.
Potentially, infection could be due to poor hygiene, use of poorly sterilized instruments or poor local field isolation.
Viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, Herpes simplex, Epstein-Barr, Candida or Tetanus infections, bacteria such as Pseudomonas, Sthapylococcus Aureus, Streptococcus, etc. could be transmitted.
Speech, chewing or swallowing disturbances
The use of piercings can cause speech difficulties.It is due to the interference of this object with the teeth. It can also affect the normal movements of the mouth.
In some cases, it produces defects in the pronunciation of words. Also, alteration of chewing, in such a way that the piercing can be confused with food.
Biting may result in tooth fracture and swallowing may be compromised due to the interposition of the object.
Mucogingival trauma and gingival recession.
Very often the use of piercing in the oral cavity can cause chronic gingivitis.It is mostly located in the anterior area of the lower and upper teeth.
Gingivitis is a process of inflammation of the soft tissues, in which the piercing can aggravate its symptoms. Among the most frequent symptoms are redness, edema, sensitivity and gingival bleeding.
In addition, it can directly affect the fixation of the teeth,involving the root, causing its mobility and the loss of the tooth.
Periodontal lesions are related in 64.3% of the cases to the use of lingual piercings and in 35.7% to those placed in the lower lip.
Typically, in vertical piercings on the tongue, the Barbell type of piercing is placed.Due to the length of the stem, it can cause most of the dental and soft tissue injuries..
Increased bacterial plaque formation and retention
Tongue piercings, as well as lip piercings, cause accumulation of plaque and calculus supra and subgingivally on the anterior teeth. This is mainly due to the fact that the lower part of the piercing contacts the teeth.
The dentist must inform the patient at all times of the possible risks involved in piercing.
If the patient comes to the doctor for inflammation or severe pain, we should remove the piercing and prescribe a chlorhexidine rinse or gel. It would also be necessary to administer systemic anti-inflammatory and antibiotic treatment in some cases, maintaining a follow-up.
Removing the elements from the tongue or lip can immediately mitigate the effects of inflammation. The use of saline irrigation or the treatment described above helps to improve the area.
Other considerations before getting a tongue piercing.
A detail to take into account when performing these piercings is the occurrence of post-operative infections. It should be taken into account that they are usually more aggressive on the tongue, compared to those performed on the lip..
If the tongue is inflamed and also affects the pharynx, swallowing or airway, emergency treatment is necessary. It should include antibiotics and systemic corticosteroids.
When Ludwig's Angina appears, the patient should be treated in a hospital setting. The indicated treatment is intensive intravenous antibiotics, also depending on the severity at the time. Preventive cleaning of all affected spaces is performed and the degree of respiratory distress is considered.
For those who want to pierce their tongue or lip and have some susceptible cardiac changes, it is important to indicate preventive measures to avoid bacterial endocarditis.
Conclusions when it comes to getting a tongue piercing.
The placement of the piercing involves risks at the dental level that can have local and systemic consequences. The most common problems are local, which can affect both gums and teeth. Also, specific symptoms may appear depending on whether it is placed on the tip of the tongue or in the center of the tongue.
Dental hygiene plays an important roleto avoid problems that can lead to cavities, receding gums, causing tooth mobility and tooth loss.
Tongue piercing infections can cause pain, swelling and pathologies that can make breathing difficult. That is why it is necessary to have a strict control before and after the piercing..
Always remember to remove the piercing when performing a radiographic examination. This is because the metal causes interference in the structures we want to see.
If we finally choose to place a tongue piercing, it is important to follow a series of guidelines:
- Perform it in specialized places that comply with all biosafety standards. They will be able to advise on the type of perforation and the aftercare to be applied.
- Use high quality materials in piercings, which avoid reactions by our body (such as surgical steel).
- Perform a dental cleaning prior to drilling.
- Intensify and improve daily oral hygiene and use antiseptic mouthwash among other measures.
- Ask your doctor for advice. You may have short braces and these, worsen the consequences of wearing a piercing.
- Use short stems in Barbells piercings.
- In cases where truncal anesthesia or sedation is required, it is advisable to remove the piercing.
- If you notice severe pain or swelling in the floor of your mouth when you place it, contact your dentist to make sure it is not Ludwig's angina. It is rare but very dangerous.
- Have check-ups and cleanings with your dentist.
- Avoid playing with the piercing in the mouth. This way, we decrease the possibility of fracture in the teeth.
- If there is already some type of fracture in the teeth, see your dentist as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the tooth structure.
- In case of gum recession, it is recommended to remove the tongue piercing to avoid further complications.
Do you have doubts about getting a tongue piercing?
Also, we are waiting for you in our dental clinic Dr. Holmes Ortega in Manuel Sillvela street, 12, Madrid..
A specialist will be able to give you indications and show you which is the best option and all the details you need.
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