Oral Piercings: What you need to know

It takes seconds to get an oral piercing but it may take months to combat the complications that come with it.

Written by: Dr. Nijam

March 09, 2021

You may look at oral piercing as just another form of accessory but is it actually safe? There are some safety issues and potential risks that need to be addressed when we talk about oral piercings. Dental pain, excessive bleeding, trauma to the tongue and infections are some of the common complications that can occur. If you already have an oral piercing, let us help you minimise the risks involved!

Oral piercings are defined as the insertion of rings, studs or pins to the oral cavity; a needle is used to create an opening in the mouth or areas around the mouth to keep oral accessories intact. Such oral cosmetics are commonly displayed on the lips, tongue, chin and cheeks!

Details on oral modifications

  • Oral piercings on the lips include:

Bottom lip, upper lip, bottom/upper side lip, double piercings on each corner of the bottom/upper lip, four piercings distributed on the edges of upper and lower lips, among others.

  • Oral piercings on the tongue include:

Midline tongue piercing, side tongue piercing, two piercings at the tip of the tongue, frenulum linguae piercing (the skin under your tongue that juts out and connects the bottom of your tongue to the floor of the mouth), tongue splitting (dividing the tongue into half) and so many more

  • Oral piercings on the cheek include:

Dimple piercings, dermal cheek piercing, cheekbone piercing, piercing on both apples of the cheek, just to name a few.

  • Oral piercings on the chin include:

Piercings directly under the bottom lip, side chin piercings, upper and lower chin piercings and many others.

Cosmetic oral modifications are not just limited to the lips, tongue, cheeks and chin. It is inclusive of the entire anatomy of the mouth such as the jawline, uvula, teeth, the roof of the mouth and the floor of the mouth. Oral piercings are growing in popularity and it is quite literally expanding into new areas! It has become a prominent fashion statement, body art and a means of self-expression in the millennial age.

Are there any repercussions to oral piercings?


Unfortunately, the list of complications attached to oral piercings is just as long as the list of oral piercings available. As with any puncture wound or incision, this type of accessory typically causes immediate complications such as excessive:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Oral infection
  • Potential permanent scars

However, some complications are built up over time, which will require longer or more complicated oral remedies to take place. Late complications relating to oral cosmetics include:

  • Drainage of purulence
  • Damage of reactive tissues
  • Spontaneous bleeding
  • Dental pain
  • Trauma in the tongue
  • Palate trauma
  • Gum trauma
  • Gingival recession
  • Trauma in the mouth floor
  • Tooth loss
  • Tooth fractures

The wound associated with the insertion of oral accessories allows various microorganisms that normally inhabit the mouth to have direct access to enter the bloodstream and affect other body structures such as the heart or brain. Severe infections resulting from oral piercings are rare but can be potentially life-threatening. There have been reported cases of people suffering from Ludwig’s angina after getting oral piercings. Ludwig’s angina is a fast-spreading cellulitis involving the submandibular, sublingual and submental fascial spaces. Antibiotic therapy and possible surgical intervention are required to treat Ludwig’s angina.

Oral accessories may also break and cause choking or damage to your teeth while you sleep, talk or chew. They also cause:

  • Interference with speech patterns.
  • Involuntary drooling.
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Difficulties for dental X-rays to be taken

People with existing health concerns such as diabetes, haemophilia and autoimmune diseases are more vulnerable to oral complications due to the fact that it may take a longer period for them to heal from obtaining oral jewellery. These accessories can also trigger an immunemediated reaction based on the type of metal being used in the piercing.

Here’s what you need to know if you have oral piercings:


There are risks involved in getting an oral piercing but it does not mean everyone who has it is doomed. There are preventive measures you can take to ensure your safety:

  • Get your piercings done by a licensed practitioner who has good experience in doing
    oral piercings and maintains good infection control.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene and extra hygiene measures for the piercing. For example,
    brushing the tongue stud.
  • Maintain routine visits to your dentist

If you are thinking of getting yourself an oral piercing, reach out to us and let our dentists help you make an informed decision. Speaking of oral care, are you due for a dental checkup? If you are, come book an appointment with us!

Have an interesting topic you would like us to cover? Just let us know!


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