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FOR RELEASE: June 27, 2002
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
405/271-5601

Health Officials Warn of Dangers of Oral Piercing

Sporting a pierced tongue, lips or cheeks can be a dangerous fashion statement. Since millions of bacteria live in the human mouth, infection is a common complication of oral piercing. Pain, uncontrollable bleeding, swelling, increased saliva, and nerve damage are other important side effects to consider before having oral piercing, according to officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The most popular piercing site in the mouth is the tongue that could swell enough to close off an airway, regardless of how experienced the person doing the piercing claims to be. Healing may take six weeks or longer if there are complications. There are dangers created by the hazards of having mouth jewelry such as choking on it, if it comes loose in the mouth. The jewelry can chip or crack your teeth, and if worn in the mouth it can hinder your ability to speak and eat.

Because of all the possible health hazards, the Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends that oral piercing NOT be done. For more information about oral piercing, contact your dental health provider or local county health department to discuss the facts and potential hazards to your health.

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