Oral Piercing: A New Fad in Body Piercing

Oral Piercing: A New Fad in Body Piercing

 April 25, 2022   Return



Consultant Oral Surgeon

Private Dental Practice Klang, Selangor.


Body piercing, including oral piercing, is a form of body art or self-expression with similarities to body tattooing. By definition, body piercing is the practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, in which jewelry or implants can then be inserted. They are often physically visible but sometimes hidden, such as in the case of charm needles (susuk), which are embedded subdermally on the face. In this article, Dr Andrew Chan Kieng Hock discusses some of the more common side- effects due directly to oral piercings and steps that can be taken to minimize them.

The History of Body Piercing

Ample historical records indicated that this practice has been common since ancient times and is practiced by both sexes. The hardware can be metallic or non-metallic objects such as stainless steel, niobium, titanium, gold alloy, silver, bone, ivory, stone, horn or even synthetic materials like PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) and PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene).

The reasons for practicing body piercing are numerous. They include religious or spiritual aspects; to conform to a certain popular or tribal culture; for aesthetic value or body adornment; self-expression in making a fashion statement; eccentric lifestyle choices, and even for sexual pleasure.

The most common sites for body piercing are the ear lobes and the noses. Even though in this age of modernity the practice is rampant, some countries—including several states in the US as well as certain European countries—prohibit or ban such practices until the person is at least 16 or 18 years of age; otherwise, parental consent is required. Most state schools, churches, or corporate companies do not allow their members to openly exhibit or display their body piercings due to dress code violation.

Contrary to popular belief, any form of piercing including in the oral cavity is an invasive and risky surgical procedure. Dentists are seeing more and more cases of oral piercings which went wrong, resulting in serious complications.

As far as oral healthcare providers are concerned, oral piercings irrespective of site or materials are not harmless but often come with some side-effects, which most owners are ignorant about. These complications, which have been reported in scientific journals as well as personally encountered by practicing dentists, include:

  • Speech, swallowing, and chewing impairment
  • Tooth fracture and chipping as well as damage to fillings and dental prosthetics due to the knocking effect from the jewelry
  • Gingival trauma and recession
  • Profuse bleeding especially in the tongue region as the organ is highly vascularized (blood vessels)
  • Pain
  • Loss of taste
  • Risk of blood-borne infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tetanus due to contaminated equipment
  • Increased salivary flow resulting in uncontrolled drooling
  • Numbness due to nerve damage
  • Infection at the pierced site which in rare cases can lead to septicaemia and bacteria endocarditis. This is because the mouth is home to numerous microorganisms
  • Swelling which can compromise or obstruct the airway
  • Interference when taking X-ray
  • Foreign body reaction leading to keloid scarring
  • Allergic reactions to the material especially metal alloy with nickel elements.

What role can a dentist play?

If patients intend to perform oral piercing but have yet to do so, they must be advised against it by explaining all the possible side-effects. Nonetheless, in the event they insist on proceeding with the piercing, they should be advised to get the procedure done by a professional or trained body piercer in a piercing studio, which is kept in a clean and hygienic condition at all times, since it is an invasive and risky surgical procedure. The American Dental Association (ADA) lists very helpful guidelines to patients who have existing oral piercings.

List of guidelines from the American Dental Association (ADA) regarding oral piercings:

  • Contact a dentist or physician immediately if there are any signs of infection such as swelling, pain, fever, chills, shaking, or a red- streaked appearance around the site of the piercing.
  • Keep the piercing site clean and free of any matter that may collect on the jewelry by using a mouth rinse after every meal.
  • Try to avoid clicking the jewelry against teeth and avoid putting pressure on the piercing.
  • Be gentle and aware of the jewelry’s movement when talking and chewing.
  • Check the tightness of the jewelry periodically with clean hands. This can help prevent from swallowing or choking if the jewelry becomes dislodged.
  • When taking part in sports, remove the jewelry and protect the mouth with a mouthguard.
  • See a dentist regularly and remember to brush twice a day and floss daily.

Dentists need to stress to owners of piercings that they need to maintain good oral hygiene and keep up with their dental check-ups regularly. Oral piercings seem to be on an increasing trend as dentists encounter not only more but also younger patients with various forms of oral piercings. This type of body art is associated with real complications, which dentists should themselves be familiar with, so that they in turn can educate patients professionally and appropriately on this issue.

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1. ADA. Guidelines on oral piercing. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/oral- piercing.

2. Levin, L., et al. (2005). Oral and dental complications of intra-oral piercing. Dent Traumatol.;21(6):341–343. 3. De Moor, R.J., et al. (2005). Dental and oral complications of lip and tongue piercings. Br Dent J.;199(8):506–509.

Luscious Lips For The Holidays

Luscious Lips For The Holidays

 April 25, 2022   Return


The skin on our lips is typically thinner and drier than other parts of the face. Follow these tips to show your lips some extra TLC.

Ahh the lips. We all know what the ideal set of lips should be: smooth, plump, soft and supple. It’s especially desirable for our lips to remain in pristine condition during the holiday season. I mean, how else would we rock a bold lippie for that year-end party? But all too often, our expectations fall short when we wake up to (yet again) find dry, cracked lips. Worst of all, no lipstick can hide dull, crusty lips! Don’t worry,  this is quite a common problem among men and women alike.

If you really want luscious lips, sometimes, you’ve got to work for it. Here’s how:


If you’ve got dry, sensitive lips, try paying more attention to the ingredients in your lip products the next time you go shopping. Choose products that are fragrance free and hypoallergenic.”

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, those with chapped lips should avoid the following ingredients in their lip products:

  • Camphor
  • Eucalyptus
  • Flavouring such as cinnamon, citrus, mint, and peppermint that can be especially irritating to dry, chapped lips
  • Fragrance
  • Lanolin
  • Menthol
  • Octinoxate or oxybenzone
  • Phenol (or phenyl)
  • Propyl gallate
  • Salicylic acid.

Instead, opt for products that contain these ingredients to help heal cracked lips. Dermatologists recommend choosing lip products that have one or more of the following ingredients:

  • Castor seed oil
  • Ceramides
  • Dimethicone
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Petrolatum
  • Shea butter
  • Sun-protective ingredients, such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide
  • White petroleum jelly
Pro tip: If you apply a product on your lips that starts burning, tingling, stinging or causing you discomfort, these signs don’t point to the product working its magic on your lips. Quite the opposite—it most likely means that the product you are using is irritating your lips, so it is best to stop using that product immediately.



A good lip balm contains nourishing emollients to help form a barrier that protects your lips. If you’ve got dry lips, it’s a good idea to apply lip balm, a moisturizing lipstick or other types of lip moisturizer throughout the day and before bed. Thick ointments such as white petroleum jelly is good for cracked lips—ointments are more effective in locking in moisture than waxes or oils.

Pro tip: A popular Korean product making waves in the beauty scene is the overnight lip mask. These are deeply hydrating and are meant to be put on just before bed so that your lips stay hydrated until the next morning.



When your lips are dry, you may be tempted to wet them with saliva. But this often worsens the problem. When saliva evaporates, your lips can become drier. If you need a quick moisture boost, use a lip balm. Biting your lips would also irritate your lips and prevent them from healing.


The sun can burn dry and chapped lips, which could lead to cold sores. Protect your lips from the UV rays by using lip balm that has SPF30 or higher. Lip balms that have sun protection typically contain titanium oxide or zinc oxide as ingredients. Don’t forget to reapply every 2 hours.


Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from within. It’s good for your overall health too.


Your skin needs time to breathe too. Washing your face and removing makeup thoroughly at the end of every day is an essential step for smooth, healthy skin. If you wear long-lasting/waterproof lipstick, remove your makeup with an oil-based makeup remover to get rid of all traces of makeup.


Exfoliating or using a lip scrub can help slough away dead skin cells when necessary. It is recommended to only do this once or twice a week. You can probably find a ready-made lip scrub from your nearby pharmacy or beauty store, but you can also easily make your own at home (check out the recipe below!). Note: If you have sensitive skin, injuries on your lips or severely chapped lips, refrain from exfoliating.


Most of the time, dry or chapped lips can heal itself within 2 to 3 weeks. However, peeling lips could also be a sign of an allergic reaction to lipstick, toothpaste, food or certain medication. If the issue persists, it’s best to consult a dermatologist.


On top of providing colour, the right lipstick adds a layer of protection and much-needed moisture to dull lips. There are all kinds of options of lip products to choose from, the trick is to pick what best suits your lifestyle. If you go outdoors a lot, get a lipstick or lip moisturizer with SPF for sun protection. If you’ve got dry lips, avoid wearing matte lipsticks. Instead, choose a lip gloss or moisturizing lipstick that is rich in nourishing and emollient ingredients (such as shea butter or cocoa butter).

You can also add a layer of moisturizing lip balm under your usual lipstick for longer-lasting hydration on your lips. HT

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References: 1. American Academy of Dermatology. 7 Dermatologists’ Tips For Healing Dry, Chapped Lips. Retrieved from: https://www.aad.org/skin-care-basics/heal-dry-chapped-lips 2. Stylecraze. Care for Your Lips. Retrieved from: https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/care-for-your-lips/#gref