They might look cool, but tongue rings are not always the best choice when it comes to your dental health. Even if the piercing heals up well, you'll still be prone to certain health risks for as long as you have the piercing. Even if you remove the ring, the hole may never completely seal up, and you'll have to make sure you don't get food particles or debris stuck in it as this can contribute to infection.
Whether you're still deciding whether or not to get a tongue ring or you already have one, it's essential that you know a little bit about each one of these risks, and what to do if you think you're suffering from them.
Chipped Or Cracked Teeth
Tongue rings are obviously made of hard metal, and if you happen to hit yours the wrong way against your teeth, you may end up cracking or chipping a tooth. Many people with tongue rings get into the bad habit of playing with the ring between their teeth. This increases your risk of breaking a tooth. Try your best to avoid this habit.
What to do if it happens: If you do crack a tooth on your tongue ring, it's important that you know how to handle the situation. Try to find the chunk of tooth that has broken off, and place it in some milk. This will hopefully preserve it so that your dentist can reattach it. Call your dentist immediately, and tell him or her which tooth you cracked, how large the missing chunk is, and what your level of pain is. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may be referred to an emergency dental care clinic or simply told to come to the office in a day or two.
Sometimes, if the crack is deep, it may be painful. You can take over-the-counter pain relievers to keep the pain at bay until you're able to make it to your dentist's office. Your dentist can repair the damaged tooth either by filling it in with some resin, or by performing a root canal and then covering the tooth with a cap. If you break more than one tooth on your piercing, you should strongly consider removing it permanently to preserve your dental health.
Tongue piercings increase your risk of gum disease in two ways. First, they contribute to the growth of oral bacteria that cause gum disease, since your piercing is a great place for these bacteria to hide. Second, by rubbing on your gums, the piercing may cause damage to your gums that leaves them more susceptible to infection. Early signs of gum disease include soreness, redness, and bleeding when brushing. As the condition progresses, the gums begin to sag and teeth start to loosen in their sockets.
What to do if it happens: If you think you're developing gum disease, make sure you're following a very rigorous dental hygiene regimen. Brush after every meal, floss daily, and use antiseptic mouthwash. If the symptoms don't clear up, see your dentist promptly before the condition as a chance to get worse. You may need to have the tooth surfaces beneath your gums professionally cleaned, or be treated with antibiotics. If you're unable to keep the gum disease under control, your dentist may recommend removing the piercing.
An Infected Tongue
Your piercing can become infected even after you've had it for years if the right bacteria get trapped inside of it. Signs of an infected piercing are pain, swelling, bleeding, redness, and pus at the piercing site. Left untreated, this can quickly become an emergency situation if the infection spreads through your body.
What to do if it happens: Seek medical attention right away if your tongue piercing becomes infected. If you have a fever with the infection, you should head to the emergency room or immediate care facility rather than calling your physician. This may mean that the infection has begun to spread past your tongue.
Many people have their tongues pierced and never suffer any major consequences. However, there is always a chance that you'll chip a tooth, develop relentless gum disease, or suffer from an infection. Keep these risks in mind as you decide whether this piercing is really the right choice for you.