Oral piercing involves the insertion of a hole through the tongue, lips or cheeks to place a stud, hoop or barbell. It’s usually done without anaesthetic. The best result following the procedure is some soreness and swelling. However pain, swelling, excessive bleeding and damage to teeth can occur.
Sometimes, more serious complications follow. These include:
severe infection if strict infection control or sterilisation processes are not followed by the person doing the piercing
severe bleeding if the blood vessels are damaged
severe swelling causing breathing difficulties
nerve damage causing permanent numbness, loss of taste or speech impediments.
Seek urgent medical advice if you experience any of these complications.
If you have a medical condition that makes you more prone to infection, delayed healing or bleeding, speak with your doctor for advice before piercing.
Long-term complications may include:
chipped or cracked teeth due to jewellery constantly rubbing against the teeth (particularly common with tongue piercing when the stem is long and made of metal) – fractures can cause severe pain, resulting in the need for a filling, root canal filling, crown or extraction
injuries to lip, gum and cheek tissue
bacteria and debris collecting around the piercing increase your risk of infection – take care when removing your piercing for regular cleaning to avoid swallowing or inhaling the jewellery
sensitivity or allergic reaction to metal (particularly nickel) used in the piercing jewellery
exposure to infectious blood-borne diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C and herpes if the technician does not wear disposable gloves during the procedure, or contaminated piercing equipment is not adequately sterilised.
difficulty with speech and chewing
trauma to the soft tissues if the piercing is worn during contact sport.
Piercing may also cause problems with dental treatment:
Images on X-rays may be obscured.
Numbness following a local anaesthetic makes it more likely a piercing is bitten and teeth are chipped.
Risk of injury to the lips or tongue is increased if a piercing snags dental drills or orthodontic wires.
To reduce the risk of injury during dental treatment, you may be asked to remove the piercing prior to your appointment. Where the risk of damage to the teeth or gums is great, you may be advised to consider removing the piercing permanently.
If you have any questions, please talk to your dentist.
You can search through to find related information.
Oral piercing and your oral health Sads
PDF 692 KB
SA Health aims to bring about cultural and system change to bring about true Reconciliation and embed practices that bring about real change
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.