Dental Health Info Article

Health Risks of Body Piercing:

The art of body modification has been implemented for decades and piercings, tattoos, branding and other tweaks have adorned a plethora of archeological finds. Regardless of how it is implemented, body modification is the norm in a variety of social groups including tribal cultures, fetish communities and the general population. While many individuals may choose to get a piercing as a way to show their individuality might be exposing themselves to health risks.

When comes to body-piercing nearly any body part can be fair game. Options include navel rings, face piercing and even the adornment of genitals via piercing. Worldwide, tongue and ear piercing are the most popular choice and aside from pain, there are additional dental health risks caused by tongue piercing and other general well being issues linked to ear piercing.

Dental Health and Tongue Piercing

Over the past few decades tongue piercing has grown to be the second most popular type of the piercing modification genre. While there are some perks to the adornment (primarily for looks or sexual performance), once a stud has been permanently affixed through a tongue it can contribute to dental problems including chipped teeth, gum damage and periodontal disease. The jewelry can also cause malocclusions and infections that can only be corrected with the efforts of a professional dentist.

Malocclusion is another name for crooked teeth and individuals with pierced tongues risk destroying their bite courtesy of the absentmindedly playing with the jewelry after it has been anchored into the muscle. Research conducted and released by University at Buffalo in New York has demonstrated how tongue piercing can negatively impact tooth alignment. The condition is caused when the jewelry-wearers absentmindedly drag their adornment repeatedly over their gum-lines or press their tongues forward directly onto the teeth. That process produces pressure that can cause dental gaps to form (

In addition to a tongue piercing ability to create crooked teeth, the material used can also increase the risk of infection. Typical jewelry options include stainless steel, titanium and two types of plastic called polytetrafluorethylene and polypropylene. Those who opt for the metal accoutrements are putting their dental health at risk of contracting staphylococcus, streptococcus or pseudomonas. Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests that metal piercing (both stainless steel and titanium) can obtain higher bacteria levels than their plastic counterparts. Researchers replaced the tongue jewelry of 68 female and 12 male participants (average age 23) with piercing composed of the four different materials. The subjects wore the jewelry for two weeks and researchers then analyzed the jewelry for bacteria levels; the highest concentrations were on the stainless steel items.

Risks of Ear Piercing

Since ancient times, ear piercing has occurred around the world, and now millions of men, women and children have an artificial hole or two in order to place jewels. While the biggest and most common risks to ear piercing are infections and allergic reaction to the metals used,  research has indicated greater risks associated with the task including infection, inflammation, toxic shock syndrome and nerve damage.

Ear piercing is extremely common and those who want the type of artistry have a myriad of methods to conduct the task themselves. Mall stores, home-piercing (like Frenchie tried on Sandy in the movie, Grease) and doctors are all ways to get the extra holes, but individuals are encouraged to choose the latter in order to minimize any health risks associated with the act.

The right doctor who is also skilled in ear piercing will have all the necessary tools of the trade; a heat sterilization machine (called an autoclave) for, new sterile needles for each piercing, gloves and hypoallergenic jewelry. By relying on their skill sets, individuals can get the pierced ears they want while lowering any risk of complications.

Risks of Navel Piercing

It has been suggested that the Egyptian Pharaohs kicked off the navel piercing trend as a sign of  ritual transition from the life at the Earth to eternity (“The Piercing Subculture – A Risky Obsession Or An Obsessive Risk” Fashion Lifestyle. Retrieved 19 February 2012.) However, the gals and guys who opt to get this type of body modification now tend to ignore that theory and instead go for "cool" factor associated with piercing. While a toned tummy and a piercing can look very enticing, they are also vulnerable to risks similar to those of ear piercing.

In this case, body shops specializing in piercing are the best sources for getting a new navel piercing, as long as the venue has the tools (autoclave, gloves, etc.). The American Academy of Dermatologists, recommended that individuals longing for a navel piercing should make sure to avoid using a piercing gun as they are not always properly sterilized.

In addition to making sure the jewelry used is hypoallergenic, individuals should opt to get a piece of stud jewelry (not a hoop) for the first time round. A hoop piercing tends to stick out of the body a bit more making it prone to accidental pulling, tugging and subsequently infection. A stud piercing is closer to the body and not as vulnerable to the health risks associated with this type of body piercing.

Before taking the leap into any type of body modification, individuals are encouraged to talk to their health care providers to find out potential risks and tips on how to care for the artistry. Individuals looking for a dentist to discuss the potential effects of a tongue piercing can call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a great dental care provider up for the task.