What Are Tooth Piercings and Are They Safe?

What Are Tooth Piercings and Are They Safe?

Today, piercings are a popular form of self-expression. But tooth piercings — like all forms of piercings — are accompanied by potential complications and risks.

For thousands of years, people have been getting body modifications. Historically, body piercings have been associated with rituals, beauty, and wealth. Today, they are a popular form of self-expression, and everything from ear piercings to dermal piercings is relatively common. However, tooth piercings — like all forms of piercings — are accompanied by potential complications and risks.

What Are Tooth Piercings?

By attaching gems or grills to their teeth, people can fill in gaps, hide stains, or divert attention from irregular teeth. These piercings are usually performed on teeth near the front of the mouth, and unlike other piercings, they don’t require any holes to be drilled. As a result, tooth piercings are minimally invasive, often painless, temporary, and pose fewer risks than other oral piercings. 

Instead, the jewelry is carefully attached to your tooth’s enamel surface. Temporary tooth piercings may last up to six weeks, while semi-permanent tooth piercings can be cemented to teeth. The gems may naturally fall off, but people can also visit a dentist when they’re ready to remove their tooth piercing.

Grills are often made of gold or other precious metals and snap over teeth, while gems — such as crystals, rubies, diamonds, or sapphires — are embedded into composite on the surface of the tooth.

What Happens During The Procedure?

Getting a tooth piercing is quick and painless, as the gems are simply attached to your tooth’s enamel and drilling typically isn’t required.

Before attaching the gem to your tooth, a professional will thoroughly clean the tooth’s enamel. Then, a composite and bonding agent will be applied to your tooth, and the jewelry will be carefully placed in the composite. Setting the gem will take less than a minute, thanks to the use of a special curing lamp designed to quickly harden composite.

Following your tooth piercing, avoid eating sticky and spicy foods. Brush your teeth regularly, although not too vigorously, as that can loosen the gem.

Are Tooth Piercings Safe?

While tooth piercings are considered safer than other types of oral piercings — tongue piercings, for example, may be accompanied by infection, herpes, angina, blood-borne hepatitis, and nerve damage — there are still potential complications associated with tooth piercings.

Aside from accidentally swallowing the jewelry or chipping your tooth if the piercing falls out, you may also experience irritation where your body comes in contact with the jewelry if you’re allergic or hyper-sensitive to metals. Even if you aren’t allergic to metal, jewelry can damage your lips over time if it constantly rubs against them.

If you’re considering a tooth piercing, plan on going to a professional in a clean, sterile dental office or piercing parlor to reduce your risk of complications.

How Do Tooth Piercings Affect Your Overall Dental Health?

Even though tooth piercings have fewer risks than other oral piercings, they can still affect your overall dental health. The main risk associated with tooth piercings is enamel damage and tooth decay. When you have a tooth piercing, food and debris may become trapped under and around the jewelry. Brushing and removing plaque buildups will also become more difficult, which can lead to more serious problems, including plaque accumulation, infection, tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, tooth discoloration, gum inflammation, and periodontal disease. 

Schedule An Appointment

You can have a tooth piercing and still maintain your dental health with a rigorous dental hygiene routine of brushing, flossing, and rinsing after each meal. Attending a regular dental check-up every six months will help keep your tooth piercing clean by removing plaque buildups and preventing other oral complications. Still have questions, or want to speak to one of our dentists? Schedule an appointment with Espire’s dedicated team of experts in Norman, Oklahoma today!