In the May/June 2004 issue of General Dentistry it is reported that not only are oral piercings a source of damage to teeth, gums and nerves but can also lead to fatal infections such as Ludwig’s angina or endocarditis.
Most people would have a hard time finding a dentist that would recommend an oral piercing, even though they often result in some revenue for them from broken teeth or receding gums that need treatment. General Dentistry also reported that one in five oral piercings results in an infection from contaminated puncture wounds.
Unfortunately, some body piercers are unlicensed and are not part of the medical profession, so proper protocols may not be followed. When you go to a dentist for treatment, a very thorough health history is taken. If you are at risk for endocarditis (an infection from bacteria traveling through the bloodstream to the heart) antibiotics are prescribed before any dental procedure is performed.
If an oral piercing is performed by an unlicensed body piercer, health histories may not be recorded or reviewed. After a tongue piercing, the tongue swells significantly. An infection leads to the same result, so follow up care is sometimes needed to differentiate between the two. Postoperative care can identify problems before too much damage is done.