Posted on: 13 March 2015Share
Oral piercings can throw the environment of your mouth off in more ways than one, but for most people with good dental hygiene, this isn't a problem. However, procedures like dental implant surgery can be complicated by the presence of a piercing, even if you keep your teeth squeaky clean. Before you go on the operating table, make sure you know everything there is to know about how you can keep your piercing from being an issue.
During The Preparation Stages
The first step to help you prepare for your implant surgery is to sit down with your dentist and ask specifically how your piercing may affect the process and recovery period. Piercings interact with other parts of the mouth, after all, so it's important to know exactly what the presence of your oral piercing might mean during the implant process.
Ask your dentist or dental surgeon whether they have ever performed the surgery on someone with a piercing. Is the operation itself any different for people with piercings then for people without them? Be sure you are satisfied with your dentist's experience level and the answers to these questions before you proceed.
After the initial discussion, your dentist may need to take some x-rays of your mouth. This is done both to examine problem teeth and to help the dentist decide whether or not you have enough bone for the implant to be placed safely. During the x-rays, your piercing(s) will have to be removed so that they do not block the machine's images. As far as the scanner is concerned, metal, plastic, and bone all look exactly alike.
How Your Piercing Might Threaten Your Recovery
The biggest worry with oral piercings is that they're usually made of much tougher stuff than the rest of your mouth. This means that your mouth is vulnerable to irritation and damage from your piercing, which doesn't need to do much to still have a serious effect over time. When you have a wound in your mouth from surgery, this worry becomes much more serious.
Piercings can rub or tap against the wound site, causing not only pain, but irritation. This irritation slows down healing and prolongs the window of time for an infection to take hold. It also increases the chance of serious scarring in your mouth, which may lead to complications down the road.
Biting your piercing or tapping it directly against the implant itself is probably the worst thing you can do, even after recovery is complete. When you bite down on a hard substance like metal over and over again, your teeth slowly start to drift apart. Over time, this can produce unsightly gaps between your teeth and can also cause them damage from crowding together. Implants and teeth alike may also chip when you tap them with your piercing.
Reducing Your Risk
If you want to avoid oral health problems but you can't bear to part with your piercing, don't worry. You can still follow some of these rules to minimize the risk of anything going wrong in your mouth.
Rule 1: Never sleep with your piercing in. On top of the risk of swallowing or choking on it, you also can't control what you do with it in your sleep. This can lead to tooth and gum damage. Your mouth is also more full of bacteria at night due to low saliva production. If you leave the piercing in overnight, it may not only irritate parts of your mouth, but also cause them to become infected.
Rule 2: Never touch your piercing to your teeth if you can help it. Nothing good comes of the interaction between hard material and teeth, so you should avoid biting or tapping your piercing whenever you can.
Rule 3: Opt for softer piercing materials whenever possible. Rubber or soft polymer plastic piercings are much less likely to irritate the tissue inside your mouth, and they almost never cause tooth chipping. You can greatly reduce the risk your piercing poses by choosing ones that are made from softer materials.
Oral piercings can make your dentist's job a little more difficult and your recovery a little more risky. However, if you talk to your dentist and take steps to protect yourself from potential complications, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to have dental implants and look cool at the same time.