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News / August 8, 2013

Irish dentists in oral piercing warning

by Guy Hiscott

Oral piercings pose a major risk to young people’s health, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) has warned.

In extreme cases, the piercings can even result in life-threatening illnesses and conditions, it said.

The IDA has pointed to the role of oral piercings in transferring diseases such as hepatitis B, C, and D, and the cause of endocarditis, periodontal disease, nerve and tooth damage, and allergic reaction to metals.
Dentists see an increase in the number of young patients presenting with oral piercing-related issues between August and December every year, it added. Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be due to young people attending music festivals, going on holiday with their friends, and preparing to start college.

Young people with heart murmurs could be especially at risk, the association has claimed.

‘The bottom line is this,’ said Dr Sean Malone, president of the IDA. ‘Anyone who gets an oral piercing will damage their oral health. In many cases that damage will be irreversible.

‘The tongue is integral to speech and if a piercing becomes infected there is a risk of irreparable damage. At the very least you will damage your front teeth. Whatever their situation, we would urge any young person who is considering getting a tongue, lip or mouth piercing to first of all make themselves aware of the dangers beforehand.

‘The risk of infections is heightened when people decide to get a piercing done when they are abroad or are attending a music festival. The standards of hygiene may well be lacking, leading to a greater risk of contracting hepatitis. That is why we are calling for the introduction of a regulatory code in Ireland and the EU for piercing establishments.’