Do Tongue Piercings Cause Tooth Damage?

Those who decide to get their tongues pierced may not give much thought to how it impacts their dental care.

Unfortunately, they should. Tongue piercings cause tooth damage, receding gums, and other oral care issues. At Susquehanna Dental Arts, we’ve seen firsthand the harm it can cause. That being said, we welcome patients who have tongue piercings to visit our office. Regular checkups can help prevent issues from occurring or worsening.

Let’s look at what’s behind the choice to pierce one’s tongue and some other dental concerns related to having it pierced.

Why Do People Pierce Their Tongue?

Some people like the way a tongue piercing looks. Others pay homage to ancient practices by the Aztec and Maya cultures. Some people like the sensation it adds to kissing.

There is no one reason why people pierce their tongues. We’re sure, though, that “risking my dental health’ is not among their reasons for doing so. The negative effects of oral piercings aren’t immediately obvious.

Are Tongue Piercings Still Popular?

Tongue piercing gained popularity in 2011 and then slowly started to trend down. But studies show that starting in 2019, there’s been a recent uptick in piercings among women age 18-25.

Regardless, there are plenty of “middle-aged” people who presently have tongue piercings and need to have regular dental checkups to mitigate the risks to their oral health.

How Do Tongue Rings and Mouth Jewelry Damage Your Teeth?

pierced tongue
Regular dental checkups can help prevent issues caused by a tongue piercing from occurring or worsening. (Source: Rodrigo Galindez)

Tongue piercings can chip and scratch the enamel on your teeth, increasing your risk of developing cavities and dentin hypersensitivity. Moreover, the metal can wear away or even loosen fillings, braces, partials, etc.

If your tongue piercing causes you to routinely (maybe even inadvertently) rub your mouth jewelry against your teeth, you will erode the enamel.

The jewelry in your mouth is a foreign object. Regardless of how sterile the studio was where your piercing took place, bacteria can easily form in the mouth. Clean your piercing regularly to avoid developing bad breath. Even worse, bacteria may cause an infection in your tongue. This is extremely dangerous as tongue swelling can block your airways.

Do Tongue Piercings Cause Gum Disease?

Moving the jewelry against the gums may cause gum recession. If gum damage goes unchecked, it can lead to periodontitis. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. Studies indicate a high percentage of gingival tissue recession in patients with tongue piercings.

Additionally, tongue ornaments may place the tooth-bearing bones at risk.

Do Both Types of Tongue Piercings Damage Teeth?

Yes, both the dorsoventral tongue piercing (inserted through the top of the tongue to the bottom) and the dorsolateral tongue piercing (inserted through the width of a tongue) can cause damage to your teeth.

The dorsoventral piercing is typically held in place with metal studs while the dorsolateral piercing usually has a barbell-type metal stud. Both types of tongue piercings keep a metal piece of jewelry in the mouth, which can be highly abrasive and destructive.

We know of patients who have accidentally bitten the jewelry while eating and broken their teeth.

What Should I Do if I Have My Tongue Pierced?

We encourage you to schedule a visit with your family dentist, who can examine your teeth and gums and discuss potential issues. Susquehanna Dental Arts is a certified member of The Centers for Dental Medicine, which views dentistry as a whole-body discipline. Your oral health is important to us.  Contact us today to schedule an appointment.