Mouth piercings and decorations

The best known mouth decorations are ​piercings​, which may be inserted in the lip or the tongue. Also used  are false ​diamonds​, generally made in glass, glued to the teeth.

Mouth piercings

These ​have been popular for years, particularly with young people​, although in fact they are only new to  people in the west, i.e. Europeans and Americans. In different cultures of the world piercings are habitually  used as a ​sign of beauty and distinction​.  

piercing labial

Until recently, in our country the only kind of traditional piercing  was ear piercing, which was always carried out on new born girls so  that they could later wear earrings.

In Europe, like tattoos, piercings in different parts of the body were generally used by sailors and people of  intense and not always lawful lifestyle. They are therefore a highly attractive way of showing  rebelliousness and refusal to toe the line​.

 Particular features of Mouth Piercings

Unlike ear piercings, which rarely cause problems, mouth piercings perforate muscle and epithelial tissue  to end up in the mouth, a sceptic cavity full of germs in which movement is constant.

Piercings can cause infection or traumatisms by knocking against the teeth and gums  while chewing and speaking.

Perforating the lip or tongue to take the piercing is a process which must be carried out carefully, in  antiseptic conditions, ​following the usual procedure of disinfection ​for all minor surgeries: using sterile  material, anaesthesia, gloves and a mask.

In some cases of adverse bacterial atmosphere due to gum disease, heavy smoking or poor hygiene,  antibiotics must be taken during and after the operation​. 

We must also remember that both the tongue and the lip have heavy blood flow, meaning that they have a  strong tendency to bleed​. 

Incidents during the operation

  • The patient could ​bleed ​heavily, although the flow is normally kept under good control. It is  important that the patient has no problems with coagulation, and that they are not taking blood thinners or  antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin.
  •  It is important for the patient to stay as still as possible so as not to ​swallow the jewellery to be  inserted in the piercing​. It is highly unlikely that this will happen; however, if it is swallowed, there should  be no problem as it would simply come out the other end of the digestive tube. But if it is long and sharp  like some tongue jewellery, ​it could stick in the digestive tube and cause an infection​, in which case its  evolution would have to be controlled until it was expelled.

However, if it is inhaled, it would stick in the bronchial tubes, making breathing difficult. In this case, the  patient would have to have it removed in hospital by means of a bronchoscopy.

 Post-operative incidents

  • The ​area could become infected​ either due to bacteria in the mouth or because the jewellery  inserted hadn’t been properly sterilised. This would cause the lips to swell painfully so that the patient  would suffer discomfort and difficult when speaking, chewing and swallowing.

In this case they would have to ​take antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication​.

To prevent infection, a mouthwash of 0.12% chlorhexidine should be used before, during and after the  operation. The same mouthwash should be used after every meal, three times a day, for a week.

  • Some people may show​ intolerance to or reject ​the material of the piercing jewellery. This may be  because they are allergic to metal, above all nickel, as can happen with earrings. Some people can only  wear gold or silver, nothing else.

Complications in the long-medium term

  • Fibrous scar tissue may occur around the piercing​. This is when the tongue or lip around the  piercing thicken to form a whitish scar. Sometimes the piercing seems to have sunk into the thickened  tissue and is barely visible.
  • Given their constant movement, ​traumatisms may occur ​in the mouth or gums. This happens  above all in the case of lip piercings. Metal constantly knocking against a tooth may wear it down gradually  and sometimes even break it.
  • Sometimes, due to constant knocks by the piercing, the gum ​recedes​, so that the root of the  tooth, no longer covered by the gum, starts to appear. In these cases we can see the root, meaning that the  tooth in question will look longer than the others with a rather unattractive result. With time, if not brushed  well enough or in the case of heavy smokers, both gum and bone can be lost, potentially leading to the loss  of a tooth, particularly in the case of a bottom incisor, which is relatively weak. Fortunately this occurs very  rarely given that most of those who wear piercings are aware of the danger and maintain good oral and  dental hygiene.

Piercings can often be a rather attractive aesthetic choice, but they  also require care to keep them healthy.

Tooth appliques

These are pieces of jewellery which either can be transparent like diamonds or coloured like precious  gems. In theory you could use a real diamond or precious gem, but it would be highly costly if it came  loose, got lost or was swallowed.


These appliques are glued to the tooth in the same way and with the same products as ​orthodontic  brackets​. In fact, they are made with a same flat back as brackets to guarantee that they will stick to the  enamel surface of the tooth.

brillante dental

They are normally glued to the ​top incisors or canines​, which are the ones we show most on smiling, and  is where they will have the greatest effect. In addition, given that these teeth have a rather flat surface, they  will stick better than they would to the curved surface of the other teeth.

A drop of orthophosphoric acid is placed on the enamel for 1 minute, then thoroughly rinsed with water  and dried. ​The liquid adhesive is placed both on the tooth and on the gem​ and polymerised with UV light.  The remains of the adhesive are removed with a rubber polishing drill.

The applique is never embedded in the tooth​ as it would mean that a hole would have to be drilled into the  ceramic to take the gem. This makes no sense, since it means damaging the tooth for no reason. Also in  this case, dental plaque could form in the cavity and perhaps cause tooth decay.

At some time in the past, such-and-such an artist had a diamond embedded in their tooth, but they did so  in a porcelain crown or veneer which replaced another that had already existed on the same tooth.

Here the usual hygiene standards of dental clinics must be applied in the same way as  for all other treatments


The duration depends on the technique​, on the quality of the surface decorated and on the care taken with  food and when eating. People with tooth decorations must try not to eat sticky chewing gum or food. The  higher up the gem is placed, the better it will respond to biting hard food and the longer it will last.

The acidity of the saliva also influences the result. Normally, if a little care is taken, ​it will last for more than a year​. 

Sometimes, in sensitive adults, the gem may ​cut their lip or cheek​. If this happens more than once, it should be removed and placed in a different part of the mouth.

If the “gem” disappears and you think you may have swallowed it, don’t worry, it’ll come out with the rest of  the food.

Whether it falls off by itself, or if you have had it taken off, ​the remains of the adhesive must be removed  from your teeth​. Otherwise, they will darken in colour and leave an ugly stain, even causing a little tooth  decay with time.

Mouth piercings and decorations must be applied with the same care as other odontological treatments.