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Tongue piercings have become extremely popular over the last few years and the trend shows no chance of abating. In most of the cases, the piercing does not cause too much trouble, however there are some complications that you should be aware of.

Infection

The first and most common complication is the risk of infection that can occur due to a number of reasons. The needle that has been used for making the piercing may not have been completely sterilized. The best option is to choose a place that looks clean and ensures all proper procedures are followed to maintain strict asepsis. 

Sometimes even though everything may be clean and properly sterilized, infection can occur. This is because the oral cavity and the tongue in particular are home to a number of different micro-organisms. These can get carried with the incision into the wound site and prevent normal healing from taking place.

Swelling

Some amount of swelling is considered normal and should be expected after getting a tongue piercing. This is the normal course of healing that follows anywhere in the body. Sometimes however if the piercing is not done deftly or the needle is not very sharp or sometimes even in the absence of an apparent cause, the swelling may be severe. This can affect the speech, swallowing ability and be a huge discomfort to the affected person.

In rare cases, this swelling may extend to the back of the throat and nearby structures.

Drooling

The presence of a foreign body inside the mouth stimulates the salivary glands to produce an excess amount of saliva. This salivary production usually reverts back to normal within a few days however it can be source of concern until it does so.

Bleeding

The tongue is home to a number of vital structures, including some major branches of blood vessels. There is an inherent risk of injury to these blood vessels whoch can lead to an uncontrolled amount of bleeding. Such a situation should be dealt with swiftly and the person should be accompanied to a hospital where electro cautery may have to be used to stop the bleeding. If such an injury does occur, then the amount of pain and discomfort after the procedure will also be more than expected.

Nerve Injury

An injury to one of the many nerves that traverse the body of the tongue can lead to a loss of taste sensation, movement or a feeling of numbness. Such symptoms will have to be examined more closely to determine the extent of nerve injury. Nerve cells are the slowest growing cells in the body and are notoriously slow to heal. Transient nerve injuries heal on their own with the sensation returning slowly over a period of time, however more serious injuries can lead to permanent damage.

Dental Injuries

These are injuries to the teeth and other intra oral structures that come as a result of having a hard foreign object in your mouth at all times. It is very common to have your tooth chipped or even fractured. This is a dental emergency and can be acutely painful to the patient. The soft tissues constantly in contact with the piercing can also show a localized overgrowth or change in color. 

These changes should be examined by a doctor to gauge the seriousness of the tissue changes.

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