Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, and Piercings

In general, the oral cavity is made up of several parts.
(1) Lips.
(2) Teeth.
(3) Gums (gingiva).
(4) Vestibule (that portion above the gums and forms the folds of the cheek.
(5) The floor of the mouth.
(6) Tongue.
(7) Hard palate, the roof of mouth that is hard.
(8) Soft palate, the roof of the back of the mouth that is soft and forms a vellum.
(9) The rectomolar suprapharyngeal area behind the last tooth, the lower jaw, down the throat.
(10) Tonsillar pillars.

The Oral Cavity

The physiological and histological makeup of these tissues render the oral cavity very resistant to bacterial, viral and fungal infections. However, disease can occur when your general health is decreased or etiologically you have misused the oral cavity, i.e., smokers, tobacco chewers, alcoholic intake.

As a general rule only, the color pink is good. Therefore, if an area turns red and lasts longer than 24-48 hours, this is a sign of something going wrong, i.e., infection, etc. and should be seen by a professional.

Tobacco chewer's lesion, white, ruffled, irregular
Healed lesion. Notice tissue pinkness

Also a general rule, if a lesion (ulcer) or a lump develops in any of these areas and lasts longer than 10 days to two weeks, you must seek professional help.

Remember, pink or salmon color is good, stippled or rough is good, red is bad, lump is bad. Should be seen by professionals. For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact 617-628-8000.


Tongue piercing and today's teens

Body piercing, an element of so-called body art, has grown immensely over the last several years. This trend, seen mainly in adolescents and young adults, involves piercing of the tongue, lips, cheeks, nose, eyebrow, and the erogenous zones. Glorified in movies such as Pulp Fiction, and considered "hip" by its advocates, body piercing presents considerable dental and medical risks.

T he main dangers involved with piercing are the risk of infection, metal allergy and bleeding. In fact, The National Institutes of Health has identified piercing as possible route for the transmission of hepatitis. In the case of oral piercing, the bacteria rich mouth can case an infection in the piercing site. Untreated, the infection could cause swelling to the throat, and prevent a person from breathing. Oral piercing can also cause damage to the teeth, interfere with speaking or swallowing, cause an allergic reaction, or breathing complications if the jewelry is swallowed.

The lack of training and education of the person providing the piercing increase the risk of a complication. I visited the website of The Association of Professional Piercers and was shocked by the credentials required to be a "professional" member. Their stringent requirements included: proof of working as a piercer for one year, CPR/First aid training, a business card, and the applicant's sterilization information. I had to go to 4 years of college, 4 years of dental school, pass 2 national board examinations, and pass 7 parts of a regional examination before I could use a needle without supervision!

As a doctor, I am ethically bound not to perform any treatment on a patient if I can not manage the ensuing complications. If I extract a patient's tooth and there is excessive bleeding, I have to be able to stop that bleeding. If the patient develops an infection, I have to be able to treat that infection. In the case of the "professional" piercer, they cannot treat any potential complications of their "treatment." They cannot prescribe antibiotics for infection, they can not manage an allergic reaction to the metal, and they can not stop a person from bleeding if there is a bleeding problem.

Piercing is a popular part of our culture. Proper sterilization techniques and the use of gold jewelry can reduce the risks of infection and metal allergy. Body piercing should be approached with extreme caution, and avoided in the tongue, cheek, or lips.

Shows lingual (back of lower teeth) with bone and tissue loss due to tongue ring
Lip ring in reality not recommended
Tongue piercing. If you insist on wearing it change to gold or plastic

To learn more: www.dentalcomfortzone.com

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