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Piercers Get a Real Tongue-Lashing

December 28, 1998|SUSAN CARPENTER

Boxers. Old folks. The English. They all have a reputation for abominable orthodontia.

Now dentists are adding folks with pierced tongues to the list.

Mindful that dentists often are first to see the hygienic fallout of oral adornments, the California Dental Assn. conducted a study of 51 people with tongue piercing.

The results? Twenty-five percent had chipped their teeth with their jewelry. Ten percent were experiencing gum damage. Increased salivary flow also was a common problem, though it produced no ill effects.

Most oral jewelry is in the form of a barbell, the stem of which slides through the center of the tongue. The knobs on either end knock against the teeth, causing them to chip, the study said.

Dentists suggest that patients wear shorter barbells or remove them entirely.

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