A Piercing Need For Protection

A Piercing Need For Protection

Last fall I wrote a column to inform you about the hazards associated with "body art" in the form of body piercing in and around the oral region.  Oral piercing includes the puncture of cheeks, lips, tongue or any oral site for ornamental decoration.

As I warned readers in the previous column, most piercers are unregulated and have no set training standards or hygiene standards to meet.  This coupled with the fact that the mouth already has a high concentration of bacteria leads to a setting ripe for disaster.  Indeed, as I reported then, the National Institutes of Health had identified piercing as a possible vector for the transmission of blood-borne hepatitis B, C, D and G, as well as HIV.

Unfortunately, the general public has not heeded the warnings of organized  dentistry and the general media, and the incidence of complications continues to rise dramatically.  These include, but are not limited to; broken teeth, altered speech, prolonged and permanent drooling, life-threatening clot formation, scarring, nerve damage, infections, loss of taste and toxic shock.  There have also been reports of hepatitis transmission.

It is more and more common for a dentist to have patients with oral piercings.  As we witness first hand the seriousness of this situation we are determined to protect consumers from any further harm.

The Chicago Dental Society strongly supports legislation at the state and local levels to establish guidelines that will address these health concerns including hygiene and training standards, certification and the requirement that minors (those younger than 18 years of age) obtain parental consent before undergoing oral piercing procedures.

Dr. Stephen Petras

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