People who undergo body piercing may consider it a form of body art and self-expression, no different from wearing earrings. But piercing on and around the mouth can cause damage to the teeth and mouth tissues. Considerable damage can occur from continuous rubbing which can include receding gum lines that expose the root of your tooth.
Much of the damage caused by tongue piercing, can be treated by our Periodontists. However, the primary thing for you to do would be to stop wearing the tongue piercing right away to stop any further damage. Schedule a consultation so that you can get your condition evaluated and treated at Anthem Periodontics and Dental Implants.

Dentists who treat young adults are seeing more and more patients with jewelry inside and around the mouth. Most mouth jewelry takes the shape of removable studs, hoops or barbells purchased commercially. Dentists are often the first to note any harmful effects resulting from the piercing process or the jewelry itself, such as fractures or cracks in the tooth structures caused by a metallic barbell stud. If the above situations seem familiar to you then consult our doctors right away to repair the damage.

Anthem Periodontics and Dental Implants are experts at repairing these harmful effects.

More About Tongue Piercing Damage:

The damage to the gum line comes from the constant contact between the oral jewelry and the gums. The results can be permanent.

Tongue piercing can cause:

  • Infections
  • Speech impediments
  • Breathing problems
  • Broken teeth

Other Important Long term damage:

  • Receding gums
  • Chipped or fractured teeth
  • Nerve damage or inflammation at piercing site
  • Periodontitis (when the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets)resulting in loose teeth or tooth loss


People with a tongue piercing are susceptible to chipping and cracking in their front teeth. This is because of the tongue movement and moreover many people tend play with their piercing by clicking it against the teeth which makes the teeth break over time. Our dentists say that repair and crows can be an option but keeping the piercing can severely harm the repairs. Most tongue piercings are made of metal that is tough on the tooth enamel.

Gums and Gaps

Tongue piercing can enhance the risk of gum diseases.  These piercings can rub against the gums and cause considerable damage. The harm caused will require surgery to restore the gums. A study has shown that people with tongue piercings have a risk of developing gaps in between the front teeth. This is caused by pushing your tongue piercing jewelry against the flipside of the front teeth.

What about infection?

Infection can cause the tongue to swell, blocking or restricting the airway. In addition, bacteria under the tongue often spread quickly and can lead, in extreme cases, to the potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome or blood poisoning.

Additional negative effects include:


  • Pain
  • Post-placement swelling
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Gum injury
  • Permanent numbness
  • Loss of taste
  • Oral hygiene problems


In addition, piercing has been identified by the National Institutes of Health as a possible vehicle for transmission of hepatitis B, C, D and G, and HIV, if piercing equipment isn’t sterilized.

But, I’m young and healthy. It probably won’t last.

In some cases, gums can recede significantly in as little as 5 months.

So, what can I do to help myself if I’m already pierced?

This type of fast-acting damage means it’s critical that you get regular dental checkups.
Our Periodontists are experts at repairing damage to the gums and bone from tongue and lip piercings. Contact our office for a comprehensive dental evaluation.

What kind of oral piercings are common and risky?

The most commonly pierced oral sites are the tongue and the lip. Tongue piercing may damage gum tissue behind the lower front teeth, the piercing can sometimes act as a wrecking ball against the inside of the lower teeth. This destroys your bone in a very typical circular pattern. Dr. DeAndrade is an expert at repairing this type of damage. He uses the most advanced techniques and materials to regenerate the lost bone and soft tissue. Lip piercing may injure gum tissue in front of the lower teeth. And accidentally biting a tongue stud can cause teeth to crack. Studs can come loose and be swallowed or inhaled, leading to breathing problems.

OK, what other problems should I watch out for?

There is the possibility of a person developing an allergic reaction to a stud if it’s not made from gold, titanium or surgical steel. Other potential dangers include deep cyst formation, scarring, damage to veins and nerves and neuromas – overgrowths of nerve tissue. Some orthodontists refuse to do any work on people with pierced tongues because of its effect on muscle position and the possible risk of encouraging speech impediments.

This all sounds like bad news?

Sorry, it is, unfortunately. Here’s something else to think about… Body piercers are unlicensed and not members of the medical profession. Usually, no health histories are taken at tongue piercing appointments, no emergency kits are available, no preventive antibiotics are used, and no post-operative care afterward is available.
Most episodes of tongue piercing may proceed uneventfully, but the severity of reported complications makes the practice difficult to get excited about.

Sources: American Dental Association, Delta Dental, British Dental Association