Answers on Adolescents

  1. Is tongue piercing dangerous?

    You might be used to seeing young people with pierced tongues, lips or cheeks, but you might be surprised to know just how dangerous such piercing can be.

    Common symptoms after piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to gum tissue. Difficult-to-control bleeding or nerve damage can result if a blood vessel or nerve bundle is damaged by the threading of a needle.

    There are many risks involved with oral piercings, including chipped or cracked teeth, blood clots, blood poisoning, heart infections, brain abscess, nerve disorders (trigeminal neuralgia), receding gums or scar tissue. Our mouths contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Under some circumstances, damaged tissues on our tongues could swell large enough to close off our airways!

    Ask your children to follow the advice of the American Dental Association and give their mouths a break. Persuade your children to skip the mouth jewelry! (Back to top)

  2. How detrimental is tobacco to your child’s oral health?

    Tobacco of all forms can jeopardize your child’s health and cause incurable damage.

    Smokeless tobacco, also called spit, chew or snuff, is dangerous, too, even though it is often used in the false belief as a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. Studies have shown that spit tobacco may be more addictive than smoking cigarettes. One snuff per day can deliver as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. In as little as three to four months, smokeless tobacco use can cause periodontal disease and produce pre-cancerous lesions called leukoplakias.

    If your child is a tobacco user, you should watch for the following early signs of oral cancer:

    • A sore that won’t heal.
    • White or red leathery patches on the lips, and on or under the tongue.
    • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips.
    • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking or moving the jaw or tongue; or a change in the way the teeth fit together.

    Because early stages of oral cancer are usually not painful, people often miss or ignore these early signs. If it’s not caught early enough, however, oral cancer can require extensive, sometimes disfiguring, surgery. If caught too late, oral cancer can kill.

    Educate your adolescent about the dangers of tobacco. Persuade your child to avoid all tobacco products - eliminating or reducing opportunities where cancer-causing chemicals can come in direct contact with your child's tongue, gums and cheek. (Back to top)

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE PAGES DO NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health.