“But I Like My Tongue Piercing!”
By Dr. Max Zaslavsky
When I was 20 years old, in college at University of South Florida, I decided on my own to go get my tongue pierced. This was back when I had long hair (when I had hair), multiple piercings in my ear, and I would be in a mosh pit on a weekly or monthly basis as I was bitter for no apparent reason other than to be bitter (blame it on El Nino). How those were the days when I was blasting Nirvana, The Crow Soundtrack, Uncle Luke and The Macarena all in the same car ride to wherever I was going.
The one thing consistent with change is well….change. The hair has been cut off, the piercing are gone (but not forgotten), but the music is not forgotten. In fact, the tongue piercing came out right before my dental school interview. How in the world would I even get through a dental school interview when I would have a metal stub sticking out whenever I spoke?
Looking back, knowing what I know now, the tongue piercing was a dumb idea (Sinatra singing in the background now Regrets….I had a few). In fact tongue piercings can create a lot of problems for the long term. Patients that I see here in the office say, “Well I can use a plastic stub for my tongue.” The reality is that even a plastic post can break teeth from excessive wear. Granted, the trauma will not be as bad as a metal post, but do you really want stick something through your tongue if you knew that it can break the very teeth you need to keep in your mouth? Extreme cracks may cause the need for fillings, crowns or even root canals.
The second thing to look at is the possibility of infection and swelling. A piercing, tongue or otherwise is an invasive procedure. Worst case scenarios can be a portion of your tongue being removed due to infection, to even bacterial endocarditis which is a severe infection of the heart. So I guess you have to ask yourself, is it worth it?
The last thing I want to cover is difficulty with speech and swallowing. When you pierce your tongue, your tongue will swell. When it swells, your capability of chewing and digesting will change considerable during the healing process. Your tongue is a muscle that is used to shift food around to your teeth. When you swell, the capability to chew your food can be so interfered with, that you will be digesting larger chunks, thus screwing with your digestive track. Between that, and slurring all your “S” words, I say to myself, “What the heck was I thinking?” But hey, I had to be a little bit nutty to walk into that tattoo shop and just say to the piercer, I want to pierce my tongue.
To quote Ozzy,” The youth is wasted on the young.” No regrets in how I have lived my life, and if you want to get that tattoo, and pierce something, who am I to tell you no? In fact, I am sure we all wish we did a little bit more back in our teens and early 20’s. Maybe you should have stopped reading so many comic books and asked that girl out…..or not had spent so much of your allowance on Mortal Kombat. But I digress….