Saturday, 7 August 2010

Old chestnuts

A news article today resurrects the age-old argument about tongue piercings being bad for your teath, citing "research" carried out at the University of Buffalo and reported in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. All sounds very authoritative, but whatever the research consisted of, it hasn't discovered anything new - the claims of tongue piercings damaging teeth have been doing the rounds for as long as the piercing itself has, certainly for as long as I can remember, anyway.

It's fairly self-evident that if you deliberately scrape a metal object against your teeth, then sooner or later it's going to wear the enamel away: that is, after all, the whole principle on which a dentist's drill works! More spurious is the claim that "constant pushing of the stud against the teeth - every day with no break - will move them or drive them apart" You don't do this naturally, not with a standard centre tongue barbell, any more than you suck your thumb or a dummy constantly. And with more of an eye on the sensationalism than the facts, the author of the article couldn't resist the temptation to mention the alleged link to brain abscesses - an extremely rare and unlikely complication, especially when compared to the many thousands of tongue piercings performed safely and successfully every year.

My tongue piercing is now nearly ten years old. Most of the time I'm not really aware of it: it doesn't cause me any trouble. I've had my fair share of teeth problems and expensive dentistry, but that's more or less entirely down to lapses in teeth brushing and deficiencies in general oral hygiene!

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