Can you have a tongue piercing while getting jaw surgery?

The short answer is “no.” Jaw surgery requires a general anaesthetic. When you go under anaesthetic for surgery, you are required to remove all jewellery, including jewellery in and around your mouth, such as lip rings and tongue piercings. In fact, you’re not even allowed to wear makeup into surgery – the rules are very strict.

After surgery, your jaw will be wired or banded shut for a number of weeks, depending on what kind of surgery you have. Even once your jaw is unwired or unbanded, it could take weeks for you to be able to open your mouth wide enough to replace the piercing. This means there is a strong possibility that your tongue piercing will grow back in before you can put in barbell or ring again, as the tongue heals very quickly.

You may want to reconsider getting your tongue re-pierced after your jaw surgery if the piercing does grow back in. Tongue piercings pose a number of threats to your oral health. Many orthodontists refuse to put braces on patients with tongue piercings, as there is a possibility that the barbell could damage the braces, or catch on the braces and tear your tongue, particularly if you play with the piercing through your teeth. But the greatest risk is that metal barbells can wear the enamel off the back of your teeth, making them weaker and more susceptible to damage and decay, and it is also very common for tongue piercings to chip your teeth.

Tongue piercings can also wear down your gums, causing them to recede and leaving the roots of your teeth exposed. A number of serious dental problems can result, such as periodontal disease and tooth loss. Gum recession is not reversible and can only be repaired with expensive surgery to transplant gum tissue from another part of your mouth to the eroded area.

There is also the risk of other complications with tongue piercings, such as severe bleeding or nerve damage if done by an inexperienced piercer, infection, tongue swelling, difficulty chewing, swallowing and speaking, tissue overgrowth, metal sensitivity and increased saliva flow. As well, some jewellery may come loose in the mouth, which could cause choking.

If you feel that you must have a tongue ring after your jaw surgery, replace your long barbell with a shorter one once the piercing has healed, as this will help reduce potential damage to your teeth. You could also replace your metal barbell with a plastic one; while plastic tongue piercings won’t eliminate gum recession or wearing down of tooth enamel on the backs of your teeth, they are less likely to chip your teeth. However, keep in mind that there could be increased problems with infection while using plastic barbells, as they are porous and trap bacteria, making them less sanitary than surgical steel piercings.

Tongue piercings may look cool, but after going through years of braces and jaw surgery, do you really want to potentially damage the teeth and bite you’ve worked so hard to make functional and beautiful?