December 12,

Oral Piercing

Oral Piercing

If you are considering an oral piercing, it is important that the piercing studio you choose has been inspected by Public Health, uses sterile equipment, and provides after-care instructions. It is also recommended that you choose a professional practitioner who has been trained and follows the Infection Prevention and Control Best Practices guidelines. Remember, it is your right to ask the piercing studios and/or the piercer for this information to better inform your decision and protect your personal safety.

What are some of the risks I should be aware of?

Even when infection control measures are in place, there are still risks to getting an oral piercing. Such risks include:

Infection – Infection is possible with any opening in the skin or oral tissues.

Allergic reaction – Allergies to nickel or other alloys may occur.  Mouth jewelry should be made of inert, non-toxic metals such as stainless steel, 14 karat gold or titanium.

Broken or cracked teeth – Mouth jewelry may cause broken teeth due to the presence of a moving metal object in the mouth.  Talking, tongue-thrusting, or grinding can chip or fracture both front and back teeth.

Choking – Mouth jewelry may become loose due to severe swelling or wear-and-tear and become a choking hazard.

Nerve damage – Piercing the tongue can result in permanent numbness, and loss of taste or movement if a nerve is accidentally pierced.

Permanent drooling – This can result from damage to the salivary gland ducts.

Additional side effects may include:

  •  pain, swelling;
  •  gum recession, possible tooth loss;
  •  blood poisoning;
  •  impaired sense of taste; and
  •  difficulty speaking/eating.

If I decide to go ahead with getting an oral piercing, what can I do afterwards to reduce my risk of infection?

The aftercare following an oral piercing is very important to preventing infection and other complications. Be sure to follow the written aftercare instructions provided to you by the piercing studio. If there is something that you do not understand, ask the piercer! Make sure to always wash your hands thoroughly before touching or cleaning the pierced area. Check the ends of the jewelry/barbell twice a day to ensure that they are tight against the lip or tongue surface to avoid damage to your teeth, or the dangers of swallowing.

What do I do if I think my piercing is infected?

If you are noticing signs of infection, such as pain, redness, heat, swelling, oozing pus, see your family doctor or dentist immediately.

Have more questions?

If you have more questions about oral piercing or oral health in general, talk to your dentist or call Public Health at 705-743-1000 and ask to be directed to the Oral Health Program. You can also click here to read more about body piercing.

Last modified on Sep 21, 2017