Over the past several years, oral piercing has become increasingly popular. While some age groups may find this type of piercing an effective means of self-expression, people who engage in oral piercing should understand that there are risks involved.

Most of us have seen photographs of celebrities or other people in the public eye with oral piercings. While it may look “cool” to some – teenagers and people in their 20s in particular – it’s important to remember what you don’t see in those photos: the ugly side effects that often come along with piercing your tongue, cheeks, lips or uvula (the soft tissue that hangs in the back of your throat).

Even without oral piercing, the warm and moist environment inside your mouth is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. When bacteria forms and are allowed to grow, an infection can develop. If not treated right away, an infection can become serious very quickly. From the mouth, bacteria and infections can enter the bloodstream and quickly travel to the heart, where they can inflame the tissue and valves in that vital organ.

But even if you’re fortunate enough to not develop an infection as a result of oral piercings, there are plenty of other side effects – none of which may immediately come to mind when we see those “cool” celebrity photos. Here are just a few of the less-than-desirable results of oral piercings:

  • They can affect the way you speak
  • They often interfere with chewing and/or swallowing food
  • Piercings can increase saliva flow and make you drool excessively
  • Metal bits inside your mouth can crack or chip teeth
  • Metal bits can also injure your gums and/or the inside of your cheeks or the roof of your mouth
  • Piercings (particularly on the tongue) can negatively impact the way you taste food
  • Wearing metal inside your mouth can be painful
  • Piercings can lead to swelling and infection
  • Oral piercings can also lead to nerve damage

Even more disturbing is the fact that the negative results of oral piercings may not appear until long after the piercing procedure takes place.

If you still decide to get an oral piercing, even after knowing what the risks are, you should remember that it requires constant diligence to keep the piercing area clean and free from bacteria. Celebrity photos may make oral piercings look desirable to some people, but the truth behind those photos is a much different story.

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