Oral (mouth) piercings

Before you decide to get an oral piercing, always consider the effect it can have on your mouth. Possible risks of oral piercings (particularly tongue piercings) may include:

  • infection
  • chipped or cracked teeth
  • gum damage
  • nerve damage (resulting in loss of sensation in the tongue)
  • interference with speaking and swallowing
  • potential blockage of airways due to excessive swelling
  • excessive drooling
  • excessive bleeding from the accidental piercing of a blood vessel or artery
  • ongoing pain (neuralgia)
  • HIV or hepatitis from the use of non-sterile equipment
  • internal damage which may be caused by accidentally swallowing loose jewellery

What you can do

Before you get your mouth pierced, it is wise to check with your doctor if you are pregnant, have allergies, heart disease, diabetes or a skin disorder.

If you want to get an oral piercing, get it done professionally and seek after-care advice from your piercer. In particular, request information and evidence of their sterilising processes. Do not pierce yourself or get a friend to do it.

Immediately after a piercing

  • Minimise swelling by consuming cold, icy drinks and sleeping with your head slightly elevated during the initial healing process.
  • Rinse your mouth with anti-bacterial mouthwash regularly – especially after eating (preferably use non-alcohol-based mouth washes).
  • Avoid smoking and do not drink alcohol or eat spicy foods until the piercing site is fully healed.
  • Do not pick, tug or put unclean hands near the piercing.
  • If pain and swelling continue after several days, or if you have severe redness, bleeding, pain or pus around your piercing, visit your doctor or oral health professional immediately.

Once your piercing has healed

  • Try to keep your tongue away from your teeth and gums to minimise damage.
  • Ask your piercer for jewellery alternatives which are less damaging to your teeth and gums (e.g. bioplast rather than stainless steel).
  • Tighten the ball ends of your jewellery with clean hands regularly to minimise the risk of accidental ingestion.
  • Maintain good oral health by brushing twice per day (including the tongue area around the piercing).

If you notice any damage to your gums or teeth or experience any pain, visit your oral health professional.