Tongue piercing is on the rise, but body ornamentation is really nothing new. For centuries, body piercing has been an important part of many cultures. Some Native Americans tribes used body piercing during ceremonies. The Mayans pierced their tongues for spiritual reasons.
The first report of oral piercing appeared in the medical literature in 1992. The first report of a life-threatening complication appeared just a few years later in the British Dental Journal.
Potential Non Life-threatening Complications:
· Fractures of the teeth.
· Problems with eating.
· Loss of taste.
· Problems with speaking.
· Increased salivation.
· Injury to the gum tissue.
· Scar tissue formation in the tongue.
· Barbells may make it hard to see dental problems during dental x-rays.
Potential Life-threatening Complications:
· Infection. Hepatitis B is the most serious threat.
· Disease transmission. Organisms include HBV, HCV, HDV, HGV, EBV, HSV, HIV, tetanus, and candida.
· Airway obstruction can be due to swelling of the tongue, or swelling as a result of a severe cellulitis – such as Ludwig’s Angina.
· Prolonged bleeding, especially if a large artery has been punctured.
· Aspiration of the barbell into the larynx or lungs, causing an airway obstruction.
· An allergic reaction to the metal.
To pierce or not to pierce…that is the question?
After considering the dangers of tongue piercing the choice is yours.