Posted by: Transform Limiting Beliefs | May 22, 2013

Ask a Green Dentist: Tongue Rings, Yay or Nay for Oral Health?

tongue piercingEvery month, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions surrounding oral health. Wondering why you wake up with bad breath in the morning? Curious how your dentist knows if you’ve been flossing or not? Let us know! We’ll ask our panel of experts to give you the 4-1-1 on everything you need to know so you can take charge of your oral health.

Q: My teenage daughter wants to get her tongue pierced, will this affect her oral health?

A:  I would advise against it! Fashionable and trendy as they are, tongue rings are not only a bacteria trap, but can cause a host of other problems! Just a few of the pitfalls include:

Chipped or Broken Front Teeth
The majority of patients we see with tongue barbells wind up with chips, cracks or fractures in their front teeth. These have to be repaired with fillings or crowns. And re-done repeatedly when those wear out!

Gum Surgery
As a Periodontist, I get referrals for surgical correction of damage caused by rubbing tongue barbells.

The barbell can come un-screwed and wind up being swallowed, and while it should pass through harmlessly, the long part can carry the risk of lodging or causing internal tears in the intestine.

Blood Loss
The tongue contains large blood vessels, and you’re in trouble if one of them is perforated. There is also the possibility of hitting and damaging a nerve.  Imagine life with a tongue that doesn’t work properly!

Lingering Pain
Tongue piercing has been associated with cases of neuralgia  – severe, long-lasting nerve pain.

Hepatitis or HIV
Unsterile instruments sometimes  spread these and other infections.

The mouth is moist and full of bacteria, and the tongue is home to major blood vessels, ideal for spreading infection to the brain and elsewhere.



Dr. Jonathan Richter DDS FAGD, is  a Periodontist and Prosthodontist, located in Great Neck, New York.

Do you have a question about your oral health? Let us know! Send your questions to or leave a comment here!


  1. I was very encouraged to find this site. I wanted to thank you for this special ride. I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

  2. This is really very helpful as we should be aware of these things.Thanks for the post.

  3. I could not agree more with the doctor’s answers – not to mention that if the piercing is done wrong, one stands to lose the ability to taste!


  4. I have never heard of green dental care before. I think that would be very cool to be able to save the planet while you are getting your teeth cleaned. I should probably head to the dentist soon. I think that I am about due for a check up.

    Eliza Lawrence |

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