Do Oral Piercings Lead to Infections?

Oral piercings are a popular way to express your individuality. Piercing your tongue, lip, cheek or throat is a strong style statement. If you to decide to add this accessory to your body, be aware of the risks.


Oral piercings aren’t completely safe. In fact, they may pose a serious threat to your dental and whole-body health. Before you decide to go forward with piercing, know what to expect.

Infection Isn’t the Only Side Effect

An infection is the primary side effect of oral piercings. Since your mouth is home to countless bacteria that thrive in the warm, dark environment, a piercing presents the perfect opportunity for infection to take hold.

Beyond an infection, you may experience a host of other harmful side effects, including:

  • Oral bleeding: If a blood vessel is punctured from the piercing, bleeding may be difficult to control. Major blood loss requires emergency treatment.
  • Gum and tooth damage: Jewelry in your mouth has the potential to damage your gums and teeth. If you swirl a piercing around in your mouth, it can crack tooth enamel and rip gum tissue.
  • Metal sensitivity: You could have an allergic reaction to certain types of metal jewelry. Your tongue may swell and make it hard for you to breathe.
  • Permanent numbness: Oral piercings can cause numbness at the puncture site that usually heals eventually, but in some cases feeling never returns because of nerve damage.
  • Disease: Oral piercings present an opportunity for transmission of hepatitis B, C, D and G through the blood. Endocarditis (heart valve inflammation) can also result when bacteria enters the bloodstream through the oral piercing site.
  • Heavy salivation: The presence of a piercing could make you salivate more than normal. This can affect how you speak.

This accessory might seem harmless, but when you research all the possible side effects, you may begin to fully realize the potential for harm.

Taking Care of Oral Piercings

If you decide to get an oral piercing, make sure you go to piercers who are licensed and have a good reputation for quality work. They should use sterilized tools, and all workers should be vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Keep the piercing site clean at all times, but especially in the first few weeks afterward, during the intensive healing process. Rinse with mouthwash or warm salt water after every meal. Once your piercing is fully healed, you should take it out and wash it every evening.

When to Call Your Dentist

If you have any concerns about how your piercing is affecting your teeth or gums, talk to your dentist. You should also see your dentist or doctor if you notice redness or inflammation anywhere in your mouth, especially near the piercing site. A rash, fever, bleeding or discharge all require medical attention right away.

Trust Oak Hills Dentistry for guidance when you’re considering oral piercings, and get the individualized, supportive advice you need to make the best decision.