It’s common knowledge that your mouth is one of, if not the dirtiest, part of your body. It’s also common knowledge that your tongue is a muscle, unlike many other areas of the body that people traditionally pierce (such as ear cartilage, a lobe, fat, etc.).
So, while you should be diligent with any piercing aftercare instructions, it’s extra important that you take care of tongue piercings. In fact, according to a study by the Eastman Institute for Oral Health, the University of Rochester Medical Center, and the University of Rochester, approximately 24,500 patients went to the ER between 2002 and 2008 with an oral piercing-related injury.
If you’re considering getting a tongue piercing, here is the run-down on the top risks you should be aware of:
1. Bacteria Build-Up – This one is obvious (and rather gross). Everything from the food you digest to the boy you’re kissing has bacteria. Yes, brushing your teeth, rinsing with mouth wash, even rinsing with water helps, but it’s tough to get every last germ. For this reason tongue infections are not uncommon. When you first get your tongue pierced it’s important to rinse with water after every meal and drink for the next week. After that, remember that your piercing won’t be fully “healed” for a year.
2. Chipped Teeth – Just think about how many times you’ve been eating and you accidentally bite your tongue. While it hurts your tongue, that’s the extent of it. However, if you have a stud in you run the risk of cracking a tooth. People with tongue piercings have to learn to work around this common issue and sometimes even learn a whole new way of chewing. Note: You could also chip your tooth by accidental clacking (say in a bumpy car) or clenching.
3. Loss of Taste – Your tongue has lots of little taste buds, and people who have had lip piercings often report a change in taste buds to change. Nothing major, but it is something that you should be prepared for.
4. Muscle Trauma – First off, you should know it’s normal for your tongue to bleed a little bit upon piercing. That said, as a muscle the tongue consists of many small blood vessels, and hemorrhaging is a possibility (albeit uncommon, it’s just smart to be informed). If your tongue doesn’t stop bleeding for a while, the best thing you can do is apply pressure with a clean towel for 15 minutes and rinse your mouth with cold water afterwards.
Another muscle-related issue that can arise from getting your tongue pierced is nerve damage. Your tongue may not move as smoothly as it once did, and this can impact your regular speech and eating habits.
5. Swallowing the Stud – Be sure to check that the balls on the end of your bling are tight before going to bed. While accidentally swallowing the stud shouldn’t cause any medical complications, if the piercing is new enough your hole could close up (not to mention the pain that comes with losing your favorite jewelry).
Ok, you’re probably a little freaked out right now. Don’t be! Most tongue piercings do not result in complications when properly and professionally pierced and maintained. Plus, by taking the last few minutes to read this post you’ve already proven that you’re playing it safe and being smart about this.
One last piece of advice, enjoy showing off your new tongue rings!