Girl with a dental diamond piercing and sunglasses

Tooth Piercing Truths

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

You’ve probably heard about ear or body piercings, but what about tooth piercings? While getting gems stuck on your teeth might seem like a new trend, tooth ornamentation has been in practice for centuries. In fact, the British Dental Association Museum has a Mayan tooth in its collection that has a green jade inlay. A sparkle in your mouth may look cool, but are tooth gems safe? Does a tooth piercing hurt? Read on to find out the answers to these questions.

What’s a Tooth Piercing?

Although its name suggests otherwise, a dental piercing isn’t a hole that’s made through your tooth. Instead, it’s jewelry that's attached to your teeth’s surface. Oral jewelry can be in the form of gems or a grill (a decorative cover the snaps over one or more of your teeth). Grills are often made of gold or precious silver metals.

Tooth jewelry can be glued on temporarily or cemented onto the teeth for a longer-lasting effect. It can also be removable. Tooth gems are usually placed on the front or anterior teeth.

Does a tooth piercing hurt? Since it’s merely attached to the tooth enamel, it doesn’t hurt. That said, by sticking it to your enamel, you’re permanently changing your tooth surface.

Are Tooth Gems Safe?

Like all other oral piercings, there are risks associated with tooth jewelry and tooth gems. Only someone who practices good oral hygiene and has a healthy mouth should consider getting a tooth piercing.

Some risks include:

  • Entrapment of food particles and debris under or around the jewelry
  • Plaque accumulation on tooth gems, grills, and other oral jewelry
  • Enamel damage
  • Chipping of teeth
  • Possible irritation from metal allergies to the gums and cheeks

Long-term tooth piercings usage is especially discouraged because it can increase the risk of dental caries (commonly known as cavities) and periodontal disease.

Other Safety Considerations

It’s also worth considering who performs the tooth piercing. It’s important that the installation takes place in a clean, sterile environment and is done by a professional. Some dentists are willing to perform the piercing, which is definitely safer than having your teeth pierced in a piercing shop. Having a dentist perform the piercing can also ensure that the piercing or gem is securely fastened to your teeth and won’t fall into your mouth while you’re sleeping.

Dental piercings might be a great form of self-expression, but it’s important to consider all the risks associated with them. Your dentist can be an excellent resource here. Don’t hesitate to ask their opinion on whether tooth gems are safe or how to keep your teeth strong and healthy even with them on!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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