Can Tongue Piercings Damage Teeth?

Tongue piercings have gone in and out of style over the past few decades, but it seems like they’re back once again. For parents of children in their teens or early twenties, this might be a point of contention. If you include yourself among this group of parents, you might have some more ammunition. Although there isn’t definitive data to back up the argument that a tongue piercing is going to hurt their job prospects, there is a study that reports it might not be so good on their teeth.

Published in the Journal of Periodontology, the study looked at the most common tongue jewelry, known as the barbell. This piecing consists of a stem that goes through the tongue and is held in place with a screw cap at both ends. What this study found is that it can do some serious damage to your teeth.

Tongue Piercings Bad for Teeth

Watch Out For Tooth Chipping…

In this study, nearly half the participants who had worn either a long or short barbell for over four years had chipped their teeth. The longer the barbell, the much greater frequency of chipped teeth. Long barbells in particular are more likely to cause tooth chipping because it’s easier to position between the teeth and bite, as many with tongue piercings tend to habitually bite their barbell. Another issue was receding gums, a problem which can eventually cause tooth loss. Somewhere between 35% of those with a piercing for four years have damaged gums through repeatedly rubbing their piercing against their gums.

Are There Other Side-effects?

For those with a tongue piercing hoping for a perfect smile, your chances are slim. Another side-effect generally occurs when constant pressure is given to a specific part of the teeth. Hint: this is something that orthodontic dentistry takes advantage of with treatments like traditional braces. That’s right, teeth begin to move. As it turns out, the constant clicking of a tongue ring against the teeth can cause gaps to form that weren’t there previously. This problem, called, diastema, could require orthodontics later.

Other more recent research has shown that tongue piercings are also much worse for your gums. People with tongue piercings are more likely to have gum disease symptoms like bleeding gums, deep periodontal pits, receding gums, and loose teeth. This study was accompanied by case studies of two young women who experienced severe infections related to their tongue piercings, which they elected to remove after 8-10 years of dealing with bad periodontal issues.

How To Avoid Complications

If you’re considering tooth jewelry, it’s not all doom. Those who choose the right mouth jewelry correctly can avoid falling victim to some of the negative effects. In addition, maintenance can help you avoid complications. This starts where most oral advice does: oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing twice a day can not only help combat tooth decay, it can also protect you against bacterial infections. This also includes visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.

To avoid complications like chipped teeth, make sure to use a barbell with balls made from polymer to protect your teeth and reduce the risk of chipping. It’s also helpful to avoid “playing” with your jewelry whenever possible.

If you’ve already chipped your teeth, dental crowns can help. To learn more about how you can fix your smile, please call 940-322-2252 or contact us today for an appointment at StarImage Dentistry in Wichita Falls, TX.