the lowdown on piercings & teen smiles

Piercings around the mouth pose greater health risks than piercings elsewhere.

Oral piercings are nothing new. For years, teens and adults alike have used lips, tongue and cheek piercings as a form of self-expression. At smilogy, we love what makes you “you”. We know that piercings may be part of your teen’s personality, but as dental professionals, we owe you the facts.

Piercings (studs, barbells and rings) around the mouth pose greater health risks than many piercings elsewhere.

Years of wisdom tells us that telling teens what to do never solves anything. Seriously, think back to when you were younger – your parents probably seemed seriously uncool.

While not everyone with a lip, tongue or cheek piercing is going to experience side effects, there are some real risks that you or your teen should be aware of.

According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA): “Intra-oral and peri-oral piercings are invasive procedures that carry significant local and systemic health risks”. These include:

  • Infection due to bacteria surrounding the jewellery and when handling it
  • Serious bleeding if the piercer hits a blood vessel
  • Pain and swelling (in extreme cases, it can close off the airways)
  • Cracked, chipped and fractured teeth
  • Damage to any existing repair work
  • Injury to the gums, which can cause them to recede or even become diseased
  • Excessive saliva flow and drooling
  • Struggles with chewing and swallowing
  • Difficulty speaking normally
  • Blood borne diseases (if tools weren’t sterilised properly)
  • Nerve damage
  • Allergic reactions
  • Trouble with future dental work

the law

The laws differ across Australia regarding whether teens can get piercings. Generally, children under the age of 16 need their parents’ permission, although this is 18 in Western Australia.

In the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Queensland, it depends on the teen – they can get them without your permission if they’re thought to be mature enough to make “reasonable judgement”.

Obviously, once your teen hits 18, they’re legally an adult. They can (and may) get whatever they want, regardless of your thoughts!

minimising the risks

So, your teenager can’t be persuaded. It’s okay, we totally get it! If their mouth stays infection-free and the piercing doesn’t interfere with their life, there are ways to protect them while they get on with it.

  • Choose surgical stainless steel or titanium jewellery only
  • Brush teeth twice a day and floss daily
  • Gently brush the jewellery itself to remove bacteria
  • Use antiseptic mouthwash after every meal
  • Once healed, remove it while playing sports if you can
  • If it’s a tongue ring, get a plastic ring retainer. It’s better for the teeth!

speak to us!

In an ideal world, you could bring your teen to us, we’d advise against piercings, they’d say okay, and you’d be on your way. We don’t live in that world!

However, at smilogy we are always on hand to offer advice where possible and help if anything happens to their smile.

Dr Luke Cronin

Dr Luke Cronin

As a graduate of the University of Queensland (2000, 2013) and the University of Sydney (2006), Dr Cronin is one of Australia’s leading cosmetic dentists, specialising in creating stunning new smiles with cutting edge cosmetic dentistry techniques, including clear aligners, whitening and porcelain veneers.

Dr Cronin's work has been showcased in Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Elle magazine and in 2019 he was awarded Australasian Dentist of the Year by My Face My Body in 2019.

Acknowledged an expert in his field for segments on the Today Show and House of Wellness, Dr Cronin now offers his first-class cosmetic treatments and customer care at smilogy.

ready to begin?

Contact us on 02 8005 4434 or see if you’re suitable for treatment with our fun quiz.

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