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Is My Tongue Ring a Problem at the Dentist

Image of a man with a tongue ring.

Not sure if you need to remove your tongue ring and piercings when you visit the dentist? Although rings don't always have to be removed, there are a few times when leaving your mouth jewelry at home is a good idea.

Tongue Rings and Piercings Can Interfere with Dental X-Rays

X-rays may not be quite as useful if they're taken while you're wearing a tongue ring or other types of mouth jewelry. When your dentist views your X-rays, he or she may only see a white shadow instead of teeth, roots or tissues. Unfortunately, the shadow may make it difficult for your dentist to identify tooth decay, abscesses, dying nerves and other issues that may affect your oral health.

It's easy to obtain another X-ray if there is a problem, but additional X-rays increase your exposure to radiation. Although dental X-rays use fairly low levels of radiation, it's important to consider the cumulative effect of dental and medical X-rays on your health and avoid unnecessary exposure.

DentoMaxilloFacial Radiology reported on one instance in which metal jewelry prevented dentists from obtaining a clear view of the patient's mouth in its July 2011 issue. Because the patient wore earrings during her first X-ray, a lesion wasn't initially detected. Although earrings caused the problem in that case, any type of metal jewelry worn in or near the mouth can have the same effect.

Removing a Tongue Ring May Be Required Before Oral Surgery

Your dentist may require or request that you remove tongue rings and other mouth jewelry if intravenous sedation or general anesthesia will be used during a dental procedure. Rings and jewelry may interfere with intubation, a procedure that may be needed in the unlikely event that you stop breathing. During an emergency intubation, a tube is inserted into your throat and passed through your windpipe into your lungs to help you breathe.

Tongue Rings May Make it More Difficult for Your Dentist to Work

The size and location of your tongue ring will determine if it needs to be removed during dental work. Because the dental assistant will position your tongue out of the way as the dentist works, your ring may not be a problem. If your ring is very large or located in an inconvenient location, or your mouth is very small, your dentist may recommend that you remove your ring before your visit.

Talk to Your Dentist Before Your Visit

If you're not sure if your tongue ring or piercings need to be removed, a quick call to the dental office can provide the answers you need. The answer you receive may depend on the purpose of your visit or the need for X-rays. If your dentist would like you to remove your ring or piercings, you'll probably find it more comfortable to take them out at home, although you can always wait until you arrive at the office to remove them.

Don't Skip Dental Visits

Sometimes people avoid going to the dentist because they're afraid they'll receive lectures about the dangers of tongue rings and piercings. Fortunately, most dentists have worked with plenty of patients who have rings and piercings and won't make judgments about your jewelry.

Because tongue rings and piercings do increase your risk of certain dental problems, it's important to visit your dentist every six months. During those visits, your dentist will look for signs of common problems that occur due to the use of mouth jewelry, such as:

  • Damaged Fillings
  • Cracked or Chipped Teeth
  • Fractured Teeth
  • Enamel Erosion
  • Receding Gums or Gum Disease
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Infections
  • Nerve Damage

Your dentist can also make suggestions that may help you avoid dental problems, such as switching to special piercing studs that don't irritate your gums or choosing tongue rings made with Bioplast, a flexible, hypoallergenic material less likely to damage tissues and teeth.

Regardless if you wear a tongue ring or not, if you are ready for a checkup, call us and we will advise you on how to prepare for your visit!


Mouth Healthy: Oral Piercings

Colgate: Tongue Piercings: Wear with Care

DentoMaxilloFacial Radiology: Why Should We Insist Patients Remove All Jewellery?, 7/11

Consumer Guide to Dentistry: Oral Piercing

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