Body piercings are initially minor (though deliberate) injuries, and the body treats them as such. The piercing needs time to heal, and the healing process may look disturbing or even like an infection at times.
However, because the mouth is full of bacteria of all kinds, some of which can turn pathogenic if given the right conditions and can cause an infection, tongue piercings can be especially worrying.
A number of problems can occur during the healing process. Also, the tongue has a lot of arterial connections with the major blood vessels of the head and neck and it is not uncommon for grave consequences to occur as a result of infections originating from the tongue.
Possible complications after tongue piercings:
- Infection: A lot of the bacterial flora in our mouth is opportunistic. This means, given the right conditions, they can cause a lot of damage. The signs would be redness, swelling, altered taste sensation and even bleeding. The damage that can occur can permanently cause disfigurement and should be treated aggressively.
- Massive blood loss: The tongue is traversed by a lot of blood vessels. Some of these blood vessels can be injured during the piercing and can cause a large amount of bleeding. It can be enough to require hospitalization as well. In most cases, an electric cauterization of the blood vessel involved is necessary.
- Damage to the teeth: Having a foreign object inside your mouth means that invariably at some time or another it will come in contact with your teeth. A stud or a barbell type of piercing may seem small and insignificant but it can easily break or chip you teeth. This of course will lead to a lot of pain and added expenditure with getting the teeth treated.
- Damage to the gums: A constant irritation to the gums because of contact against the tongue piercing can lead to gingival recession. This is a condition where the gums leave their ideal position and instead expose the parts of the teeth that should be protected. The roots, which are exposed during gingival recession are more susceptible to damage when exposed to the oral environment and can lead to sensitivity, decay and periodontitis.
- Ingestion: It is extremely common for people to ingest their tongue piercings. This is a dangerous situation as these piercings can cause a tear in the intestines leading to internal bleeding. A bronchoscope retrieval or even surgery may be necessary.
- HIV and other viruses: This is one risk that is present with all piercings. The use of unsterile instruments exposes you to the risk of infections as these instruments break the skin and come in contact with blood. This is one risk that can avoided by ensuring the process is done at a reputable place.
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