Adolescent Dentistry

Tongue piercing - skip it!

Pierced tongues, lips or cheeks are popular among young people but it might surprise you to know how dangerous they can be.

Oral piercings pose many risks, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Your tongue could swell large enough to close off your airway!

Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Hard to control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is in the path of the needle.

So follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give your mouth a break - skip the mouth jewelry.

Tobacco in any form is dangerous

Tobacco in any form can jeopardize your child's health and cause incurable damage. This includes smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff. Teach your child about the dangers of tobacco.

Many teens mistakenly believe that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to cigarettes. Studies show that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking, and more difficult to quit. One can of snuff per day delivers as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.

If your child is a tobacco user, watch for these early signs of oral cancer:

  • A sore that won't heal;
  • White or red leathery patches on his lips, and on or under his tongue;
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips;
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue, or a change in the way the teeth fit together.
  • Because the early signs of oral cancer are often not painful, it often goes undetected. Oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery if it's not caught in the early stages. Even worse, it can kill.
  • Help your child avoid tobacco in any form. By doing so, they will avoid putting cancer-causing chemicals directly in contact with his tongue, gums and cheek.