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Dangers of Tongue Piercing

I just ran across an interesting article on the dangers of tongue piercing in the on-line version of USA TODAY.

The article mentions the case study of a 20-year-old woman who grew a permanent "second tongue" after wearing a stud in her tongue for approximately one year. Her "second tongue" was scar tissue that likely formed due to irritation by an inch-long stud that was a haven for plaque formation.

According to The Academy of General Dentistry, the most common dangers of tongue piercing are:

  • Infection from unsterile instruments, such as bloodborne hepatitis
  • Piercing of a blood vessel, resulting in blood loss
  • As in the case study mentioned above, development of scar tissue
  • Fractures or chips of teeth

I believe that health care providers, parents, and teachers need to make more of an effort to educate students on the dangers of tongue piercing, as it is a trend that has become quite popular in many western societies.

According to the Journal of the California Dental Association, the most common sites for piercing in and around the mouth region are the tongue (81%) and the lip (38%). In case you are wondering, the two numbers don't add up to 100% because a significant percentage of people have piercings in both the tongue and the lip.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association, surveys of university students indicate that 10.5% of them have had their tongues pierced.

If you or someone you know cannot be stopped from going through with a tongue piercing, the author of the case study mentioned above, Dr. Ellis Neiburger, recommends that you keep the wound clean, and that you make sure that the bar of your stud is short enough that food and bacteria cannot easily enter the wound. Dr. Neiburger also recommends replacing metal barbell heads with plastic ones.

Make no mistake about it: the dangers of tongue piercing are real. Why risk unnecessary harm to your health?


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