Most fashion trends seem to come and go pretty quickly, but not tongue piercing…much to the dismay of parents and dentists.
For tongue piercing can cause a number of dental problems, starting with infection, which can spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream. Occasionally, such an infection can spread to the brain, killing the patient.
More common are gum problems and broken teeth caused by the habit of playing with the piercing – flicking the tongue around the oral cavity, hitting both teeth and gums. This repeated trauma can damage the periodontal tissues and crack or break the teeth.
Recently, a case report surfaced that illustrates another potential risk of the playing habit: orthordontic problems.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, described the case of a 26 year old woman who repeatedly played her piercing against her upper front teeth. By the end of 7 years of pushing the stud up and against her front teeth, a significant diastema – a gap between her front teeth – had formed where none was before.
As the study’s lead author, Sawsan Tabbaa, DDS, describes it,
The barbell is never removed because the tongue is so vascular that leaving the stud out can result in healing of the opening in the tongue…so it makes perfect sense that constant pushing of the stud against the teeth – every day with no break – will move them or drive them apart.
Thanks to orthodontic treatment, the patient’s smile was restored to its original, non-gappy look.