Oral piercings commonly refer to piercings of the tongue, cheek or lips and are usually shown off with jewelry such as studs, barbells or rings. They are a form of self expression that has become especially popular in the last two decades. Unfortunately, when not performed or cared for properly, mouth piercings pose a much greater health risk than ear piercings. They also require constant upkeep and attention. Before you get an oral piercing, it is always best to speak with your dentist about your individual risks and personalized care.
What are the typical risks associated with oral piercings?
Our mouths contain millions of bacteria, which means the risk of infection and inflammation, as well as further complications, increases dramatically. For example, an infected tongue can swell so much that it closes off the airway and make it difficult to breathe. After a piercing, watch for typical signs of infection such as the presence of a fever, chills, and swelling or redness around the piercing site. If you notice any of these signs, call our office as soon as you can.
Other risks associated with mouth piercings include:
Caring for Oral Piercings
Piercings in the mouth will usually heal in four to six weeks. Taking piercing aftercare seriously reduces your risk of complications and keeps healing time to a minimum. Here are some tips to keep in mind during this time:
Cancer is a scary disease. It often strikes without warning and can change your life in an instant. Fortunately, your doctor can monitor you for signs of most types of cancer. Because early detection can save your life, it’s important to have regular visits to screen for early signs.
One type of cancer that doesn’t get as much attention is oral cancer. Because patients don’t typically hear much about the signs or symptoms, oral cancers are often discovered at later stages, negatively impacting the survival rate.
While other types of cancers are declining as awareness for them increases, the rate of oral cancer is actually on the rise, especially in the younger population. Although tobacco use is an obvious risk factor for oral cancer, it isn’t the only one. Alcohol use, genetics, age (40 and over), and exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV) are all contributing factors to the development of this disease.
Most cases of oral cancer are discovered at a very late stage, after many opportunities for treatment have already passed. Fortunately, these statistics don’t need to stay so bleak. One way to combat the rise in cases of oral cancer is to have regular screenings. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an annual oral cancer screening for women and men ages 17 and up.
While you’re already at the dentist every six months for your regular exam and cleaning, you have a perfect opportunity to have an oral cancer screening. Having your dentist perform a quick exam twice a year will ensure that any problems are caught early enough to be receptive to treatment.
At Dr. Roberts Family Dentistry, screenings for oral cancer can start as early as sixteen years old and are performed at no charge at every regular cleaning! We use cutting-edge technology called VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System to scan your mouth for signs of oral cancer, pre-cancer or other abnormal lesions that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye. If that sounds scary, don’t fear. The exam is quick and pain-free: Since the screening only uses a light, there’s no prodding, unpleasant dyes, rinses or waiting involved. This simple screening not only will give you a peace of mind but it may save your life.