Scary Facts about Tongue Piercing

tonguepiercingThink it’s too early to worry about your child getting a body piercing? According to a Northwestern University study, women account for almost three fourths of people with body piercings, and a third of them got their first piercing under the age of 18.

The study showed that unlike the case with tattoos, the prevalence of body piercing does not vary by educational status or income level. So if you’ve got a tween or soon-to-be tween floating around the house, it’s good to have some background on the risks when their curiosity about body piercing leads to questions.

The following are common medical complications associated with body piercing, including dental risks involved specifically with piercing the tongue:

  • According to Northwestern University, about a fourth of those with body piercing report complications.
  • In a study of those with tongue, lip, or cheek piercings, a fourth had broken teeth attributed to their oral jewelry.
  • labretsAccording to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tongue piercing can lead to tongue infections as well as infections of the neck and brain.
  • Tongue rings can create chemical trauma, sensitivity, and mouth allergies.
  • Labrets/dumbells can damage the bone that supports teeth and gums, resulting in tooth loss and possible facial scarring.
  • Nerve damage and speech impediments have also been associated with tongue piercing.
  • Life threatening infections, including hepatitis and inflammation of the heart, may sometimes ensue.

One option for young ones bent on making a fashion statement is to use non-piercing alternatives such as magnets, clip-on, or adhesive options. 11-year-old Willow Smith, celebrity daughter of Will and Jada Smith, recently caused an internet frenzy when she posted a photo of her tongue piercing on Instagram. Turns out the stud was fake. (A word of warning – fake tongue piercings that are magnetic may also prove dangerous if swallowed!)

Do you have a tongue-piercing story to share? Send a comment below and tell us about it!

Related Alameda and Pleasanton Pediatric Dentistry stories you may enjoy:

Ouch! Advice for Handling Toddler Tooth Injuries
Why Athletes Need Mouth Guards
Is that Normal? Two-Headed Baby Teeth and More
Teeth Grinding Q&A

Photo (featured): Tommy T/CC BY-SA 3.0



  1. Gwen T. says:

    Hello, I received my tongue ring about a month ago and i did do some research but apparently not enough. No one or nowhere did I read nor hear anyone say that the ball leaves it’s shape at the top/roof of your mouth. In case no one has notice or felt irritation there, it’s because you have a circle indent there.

  2. Matt Mo says:

    I’ve had mine for over 10 years and I do not have an indent on the roof of my mouth nor had any infections or speech impediment…

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