Oral piercings may look cool but damaging to health

National 2 minutes, 8 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ORAL piercings are damaging to the wearer’s teeth and gums and many Bruneian youths are still unaware or unafraid of the potential health risks.

“Piercings may have cool factor, but many young adults are unaware of risk factors to gums and teeth,” said consultant orthodontist at the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC), Dr Balekudru Vishwanath.

“If you’re tempted to pierce your lip, cheek or tongue, be advised that such piercings come with significant risks,” said Dr Balekudru, noting that some of his patients still choose to sport the body piercing even after knowing the damage it can do.

The specialist said if not cared for properly, oral piercing could damage and cause the teeth to chip, or in some case tooth decay leading to tooth loss.

“Wearing oral piercing ornaments may result in significant deformities to gingival tissue (gums) that might not respond satisfactorily to surgery and, in fact, may lead to tooth decay or worse tooth loss,” said the orthodontist.

“I see patients who have cracked teeth or receded gums and end up requiring a lot of dental treatment as a result,” he added. Dr Balekudru added oral piercings could cause swelling to the gums, infections and even nerve damage to the tongue as a result from the metal jewelry rubbing against the gums or teeth, damaging the tissues of the mouth and teeth’s outer layer of the enamel.

“I like that some of my patients have all developed their own unique ways of expressing their individuality, however, I don’t suggest to my patients to get oral piercings because of the havoc they’re known to wreak on teeth,” said Dr Balekudru.

“Youngsters do not know the consequences of having these piercings, it can cause receding gum lines and may even add months to your orthodontic treatment, which can be costly,” said the specialist.

Dr Balekudru said a study found that stainless steel jewelry could accumulate more bacteria than jewelry made from plastics such as Teflon. “So, if you’re thinking of getting any oral piercings, wearing plastic jewelry rather than metal may pose less risk for infection,” he advised.

The orthodontist went on to advise people with oral piercings to keep the pierced area free of any matter that may collect on the jewelry by using an antiseptic mouthwash after every meal and to keep the jewelry clean from oral plaques.

Data from the Integrated Health Screening for public officials from 2007 to 2010 showed that untreated tooth decay among Bruneians from 18 to 24 age-group stood at 59 per cent.

The Brunei Times