The Dangers of Oral Piercings

AnnC

Ann Clark, RDH

Oral Piercings
Although attractive to some, tongue, lip, and cheek piercings have a number of health related risks associated with them.  One of the biggest dangers of mouth piercings is the damage to the teeth that can come from bumping or rubbing against the piercing.  There is also a fairly high risk of infection to this area from bacteria that can get trapped.
Dangers of Oral Piercings
   *Infection – Risk of this is increased due to the new wound created.  The array of bacteria that live in the mouth plus the addition of bacteria from handling the jewelry.
   *Transmission of Disease – Oral piercing poses increased risk of the herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B or C.
   *Endocarditis – The piercing site poses risk for mouth bacteria to enter the bloodstream and lead to developing endocarditis–an inflammation of the heart or its valves–in certain people with underlying (many times asymptomatic or undiagnosed) heart issues.
   *Nerve Damage/ prolonged bleeding – Numbness or loss of sensation at the piercing site or movement problems can occur if the nerves are damaged. If blood vessels are punctured, prolonged bleeding can occur.  Tongue swelling following piercing can be severe enough to block the airway and make breathing difficult.
   *Gum Disease – Piercings, especially involving longer jewelry, like barbells, have a greater chance toward this disease.  The jewelry can come into contact with gum tissue causing tissue recession, an injury leading to loss of teeth.
Recession
   *Damage to Teeth – Teeth contacting the jewelry can chip, crack, or wear away.  One study from a dental journal reported 47% of barbell wearers for 4+ years had at least one chipped tooth.
Chipped Anterior
   *Difficulty in daily functions – tongue piercings can result in problems with swallowing, chewing food, and clear speech.  This occurs from the jewelry stimulating an excessive production of saliva.  Taste can also be altered.
   *Allergic Reaction – We call metal hypersensitivity Allergic Contact Dermatitis, which can occurring in susceptible people.
   *Jewelry Aspiration – If jewelry becomes loose in the mouth it poses a possible choking hazard if swallowed causing issue to the digestive tract or lungs.
If oral piercings are still for you, please consider:
-find a recommended studio
-Visit the studio first and ask about hospital-grade autoclaves to sterilize, or use of disposable instruments.  Are disposable gloves used?
-Ask to see a health certificate.
-Are instruments kept in sterilized packages?
-Are employees vaccinated against Hep-B?
-Ask many questions, the staff should be willing to respond
Tongue Ring
WARNING SIGNS!! (Consult your dentist if any of these occur)
-yellow/green discharge (normal is clear or white)
-scarring or thickened tissue build up darkening the piercing site
– an abscess (pimple) at the piercing site
-bleeding or tearing after the piercing
-a resting low-grade fever
Sources
   American Dental Association: “Oral Piercing and Health”
   Academy of General Dentistry: “What is oral piercing”

Fluoride: It’s not just for the kids.

KO6A0990-Edit
Andra Mahoney BS RDH
 
When someone says fluoride, most of us automatically think children. While it is true that fluoride is an important part of our children’s oral health, it is also a necessity for adults as well. Adults, just like children, get cavities. So adults, just like children, should receive fluoride.In fact, there are many age related problems that increase our need for fluoride.Some examples include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of regular professional dental care
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
  • Exposed root surfaces of teeth, recession
  • Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
  • Poor diet
  • Existing fillings
  • Tooth enamel defects
  • Undergoing head and neck radiation therapy

I’d like to address recession and dry mouth specifically, since those are very common problems.

Recession- Recession is when the gums have receded below the crown of the tooth, exposing the root to the tooth. 

IMG_0074      IMG_0076.

This creates two main problems. First, the roots of the teeth do not have enamel, they are covered by cementum.

IMG_0073

As we all know, enamel is the hard material that protects the surface of the tooth. Enamel is 70 times stronger than cementum. This, unfortunately, means that the roots of the teeth are more prone to decay than the crowns of the teeth. The best recommendation for recession and the prevention of decay is fluoride. Make sure you are using a soft bristled brush with soft brushing (to prevent further recession) in combination with fluoride toothpaste. Also, you may received fluoride treatments at your dental appointments. The most beneficial would be fluoride varnish. Your hygienist is able to apply this for you at each appointment. The varnish coats the tooth in a protective layer of fluoride to aid in the prevention of decay.

The second problem that recession creates is sensitivity. When the root is exposed tiny little tubules open up on the tooth and the chances for sensitivity increase. This makes eating or drinking cold or sweet things painful. You will often notice a sharp zing when the area of recession comes in contact with cold or sweet items. The best recommendation for sensitivity due to recession is fluoride. Sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, contain an increased amount of fluoride (as opposed to regular toothpaste) to assist in the prevention of sensitivity (and decay).

IMG_0077

Fluoride varnish is also helpful as it coats the tooth and temporarily closes the tubules decreasing the sensitivity. 

IMG_0075

Xerostomia

The last topic that I wanted to address is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Many adults take medicine and the most common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. A decrease in saliva increases your risk for decay. Saliva is important in washing away bits of food, neutralizing acids created by bacteria, as well as containing minerals that help prevent tooth decay. If you are having problems with dry mouth, try rinsing with a fluoride mouth was or a saliva substitute.

  IMG_0079    

All these reasons and many more show the importance of fluoride use for adults. If you have any other questions about the other problems that fluoride can help with, feel free to make an appointment with us and we’ll answer all your questions! 

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com/

 

References:

Fluoride Treatments in the Dental Office ADA: http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_72.pdf

Can Fluoride Help Adults? Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Adults/Adult-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Can-Fluoride-Help-Adults.cvsp

Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm

Pictures:

http://www.drneal.com/pages/library/images/clip_image002.jpg

http://worcesterdentalimplants.com/_ah/editor/images/DSC_0258.JPG

http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/local/sunnyvale-dentist/tooth-anatomy.gif

http://www.beffadental.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/imbvarnish_brush1.gif

http://www.m.sensodyne.com/?redirectfrom=www.sensodyne.us+R-https%3a%2f%2fwww.google.com%2f

http://pics2.ds-static.com/prodimg/380812/300.JPG