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Oral Piercing

How oral piercings affect your oral health

Dear Doctor,
Oral Piercings I recently took out my tongue bolt. How will this affect my oral health? Will the hole in my tongue ever close up and heal? Please advise!

Dear Sarah,
Without making any social or value judgments, purely from a professional perspective we're pleased you've removed your tongue piercing — which is probably a tongue bolt. Without question your oral health will improve simply because you are reducing the risk factors that go along with piercings, most commonly chipping and sensitivity of teeth, gum recession and other periodontal problems (peri-around, odont-tooth) including bone loss to name a few.

By removing an oral piercing, your oral health will improve simply because you are reducing the risk factors that go along with piercings!

It would appear that you survived the discomfort and pain associated with the placement of the bolt, and hopefully some of the issues that make them difficult to place also help them heal. The tongue is basically made of muscle groups that demand lots of energy, which comes to them through a rich blood vessel supply. Consequently when you cut or bite your tongue it not only hurts a lot, it also heals quickly. Will the hole close and heal? Our dermatologist colleagues tell us that ear piercings, if small may close and heal “spontaneously” — all by themselves. Larger ear piercings may need a small surgical procedure to remove the skin lining the holes which are then sutured (stitched) closed and generally heal uneventfully. The same is certainly true for holes created by tongue bolts. Don't be alarmed though because these small surgeries are usually carried out with a little local anesthesia (numbing shot) so you don't feel anything and once closed the areas are generally not painful and heal quickly. For advice go and see your dentist or a health professional with surgical training (oral surgeon or periodontist, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon).

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