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Infected Tongue Piercing

Feb 13, 2023Oral health

Infected tongue piercing

Although tongue piercings have become increasingly popular, there are potential risks associated with having a tongue ring including infection.

Tongue piercings offer an avenue for potentially harmful bacteria to enter the body due to their difficult-to-maintain hygiene.

The natural warmth and moisture of the mouth, along with its abundance of bacteria and food particles, make it a particularly prone environment for infection when new openings in the tissue arise.

In order to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection, proper care should be taken when obtaining a tongue piercing. This will help ensure successful healing, as well as maintain the stability of the piercing.

 

What Does an Infected Tongue Piercing Look Like?

A survey of 51 people found that 3 individuals had developed infections related to tongue piercing, exhibiting symptoms such as pain, redness, swelling and a bad taste.

It is common for a tongue piercing to be tender in the initial stages; however, it is important to be aware of the common signs of an infected piercing. Below are some indications of possible infection:

Extra swelling

It is normal for your tongue to be swollen. It is even normal for you to have some difficulty eating and talking during this time, but if this swell makes it particularly difficult for you to eat or speak, it may be an infection that is causing these difficulties.

If you are experiencing swelling of the tongue that impairs your ability to breathe, seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait to take action.

It’s also vital that you pay attention to the length of time that your tongue remains swollen after the infection has begun. Anything that lasts longer than seven to ten days should be taken into consideration.

Redness and tenderness

If you experience redness and pain that persists for a period of more than one week, or observe red streaks radiating from the piercing site down your tongue, seek medical attention immediately. This may be an indication of an infection that is spreading.

If your piercing remains healthy, tenderness should gradually diminish as you heal your tongue piercing.

Bleeding or discharge after healing

It is normal for some bleeding or discharge of fluids to occur while your tongue is healing. There is no cause for concern.

If you observe yellow or green discharge from your tongue piercing after the regular healing period has passed, it is likely an indication of infection. Additionally, any bleeding from the piercing after the normal healing duration could also be a sign of an infection.

Discoloration

It is strongly recommended that you seek medical treatment from a doctor if your tongue has changed color as this can be indicative of a serious and advanced infection.

Oral Piercing Risks and Complications

Pierced tongues may be a form of self-expression, but it comes with potential risks. The oral cavity is full of bacteria which, if transferred to the tongue during the process, can cause infection and inflammation. These symptoms can make it difficult to breathe and, in individuals with cardiac complications, can cause further damage to heart valves.
Tongue piercings may result in an increased risk of bleeding due to the large number of blood vessels in the area.
  • Oral complications: Wearing jewelry in tongue piercings can be problematic to dental health, potentially causing chipping and cracking of teeth, as well as damage to gums. Furthermore, swelling of the tongue after a piercing can impede chewing, swallowing, and occasionally breathing.
  • Oral infections: If a piercing is performed, one can expect to experience redness, pain, swelling, or a pus-like discharge.
  • Bloodborne diseases: The use of contaminated piercing equipment can potentially put an individual at risk of contracting various bloodborne diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus and HIV.
  • Tearing or trauma: Wearing jewelry carries a risk of the item getting snagged or torn out, which may require medical attention including stitches or other repairs. If an allergic reaction, infection, or other oral problem develops near a piercing, it may be necessary to obtain medication or other treatment. If it breaks off, there is a possible choking hazard. Additionally, one may suffer dental damage, such as chipped teeth, if it comes in contact with the teeth while eating, sleeping, talking, or chewing. In severe cases, a root canal or tooth loss may be required in order to address the damage caused by the jewelry breakage.

Tongue piercings may also be associated with the following issues:

  • It is difficult to speak, chew, or swallow.
  • Damage your tongue, gums, or fillings
  • Make you drool
  • It is difficult for your dentist to take an X-ray of your teeth.
  • Untreated dental issues may result in serious health complications, such as gum disease, uncontrolled bleeding, a long-term infection, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
  • The metal in the jewelry may lead to an allergic reaction.
  • Damage to the nerves in the tongue may be experienced temporarily or maybe more long-term in nature.

The American Dental Association (ADA) strongly advises against obtaining oral piercings due to potential risks associated with the procedure. Individuals who participate in activities that create a higher risk of complications should avoid getting an oral piercing.

Individuals with existing health conditions that could impede the healing process of a body piercing are particularly vulnerable to developing potential health complications. These include heart disease, diabetes, hemophilia, and autoimmune disorders.

Oral Piercing Safety

If you are considering getting an oral piercing, it is important to ensure that you are up-to-date on your vaccinations for Hepatitis B and Tetanus.

When selecting a piercing shop, it is important to ensure the establishment appears clean and organized. Additionally, it is essential to confirm that the piercer has obtained a valid license, signifying they have passed through specialized training. Furthermore, prior to the beginning of any procedure, your piercer should sanitize their hands with an appropriate antibacterial soap and a fresh pair of single-use gloves. Finally, only use of sterilized tools or disposable tools is acceptable.

It is important that you ensure that the following is taken care of:

  • The piercer is available to address any questions you may have.
  • The employees at the shop have been vaccinated for Hepatitis B. Feel free to inquire about this.
  • The shop does not utilize a piercing gun.
  • The needle is brand-new and has not been used previously.
  • Once a needle has been used, it must be placed in a secure, sealed container.
  • Jewelry can be crafted from surgical steel, solid gold, or platinum.

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