So far, we have seen our share of hot dry weather this summer! And with that weather comes summer fashions where clothes are lighter and there is more of the human body to be seen. Some of us may see the human body as a perfect work of art not to be tampered with. Others see it as a canvas to explore with tattoos and piercings.

If you take the latter view, we hope you do your research and select a reputable location to explore your edgy look. Just keep in mind, when it comes to piercings, there is a lot more to think about other than just where to go to get it done or how cool it looks. When it comes to piercings of the lips, cheeks or tongue, we also have to think about how this might affect your oral health.

It may not be pleasant to think about it, but the tongue is prime breeding ground for bacteria. Millions of these organisms make their home in this small little area of the body. In fact, as much as 70% of the bacteria found in the mouth make their home on the tongue.

Bacteria build-up on the tongue can cause serious health concerns. Bacteria are live organisms. They like to grow and they like to move. Just because they start at the tongue does not necessarily mean they will stay there. They may easily move to the teeth and gums. And bacteria at the gum line can cause periodontal disease.

More serious problems, such as infections, can occur if the bacteria finds its way into the bloodstream. These infections may not necessarily remain in the mouth. Blood flows throughout the body and it can transport that bacteria wherever it goes.

Keeping your tongue clean by brushing it is always important. If you are thinking of getting your tongue or lips pierced, you have even more reason to keep your tongue clean. The piercing creates an open wound that gives easy access for the bacteria to get into the blood stream. Just think of the infections that could result!

Even if you manage to avoid any infections from the piercing, you have created a great place for bacteria to accumulate. People with pierced tongues who fail to properly clean around the piercing are more likely to have bad breath than those without piercings.

At Rideau Dental Centre, we certainly recommend against piercings. Our focus is on your oral health and anything that makes it more difficult to maintain good oral health, such as piercings, is not something we favour. However, we recognize that the desire to be edgy and cool may trump good health advice. Should that be the case, it is vital that you keep the area around the piercing as clean as possible.

We will certainly do our part to help you in that regard, as long as you come to see us on a regular basis.  We will let you know if there are any early signs of infection around your piercing.

However, the bulk of the work at keeping the areas around piercings clean and bacteria free are up to you! You have to be committed to taking extra care in cleaning your teeth at home. Because avoiding the spread of infection is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon