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Oral Piercing: Not as safe as you think.

Piercing, like tatooing, is just one of today's popular forms of "body art" and self-expression. Piercing may seem daring, cool and totally safe because some celebrities use piercings to flaunt their particular style or attitude. But piercing the tongue, lips, cheecks or uvula (the tiny tissue that hangs at the back of the throat) is not as safe as some would have you believe. That's because the mouth's moist enviroment- home to huge amounts of breeding bacteria- is an ideal place for infection.

An oral piercing can interfere with speech, chewing or swallowing. That may seem like a mere inconvenience until you consider that it may also cause:

-Excessive droooling (something you won't see in hip fashion magazines_
- Infection, pain and swelling
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Injuries to the gums
- Damage to fillings
- Increased saliva flow
-Hypersensitivity to metals
-Scar tissue
- Nerve damage

These harmful effects can happen during the piercing, soon after, or even long after the procedure. An infection can be life threatening if it is not treated promptly. After piercing the tongue can swell. There have been reports of swelling serious enough to block the airway. You may also have lasting nerve damage to the tongue. The injured nerve may affect your sense of taste, or how you move your mouth. In addition, piercing jewelry can sometimes cause allergic reactions. The jewerly can even get in the way of dental care by blocking x-rays.

Don't pierce on a whim. The piercing will be an added responsibility to your life, requiring constant attention and upkeep. Talk with your dental professional for more information.