Tongue piercings can be damaging to braces or impede their success. The piercing can hit the braces or teeth and break them, either during sleep or while speaking. A tongue piercing can also make the braces less effective by interfering with tooth movement and causing gaps in the teeth.
Plastic or rubber piercings are less likely to damage teeth or braces than metal piercings. The size of the jewelry is also important, as smaller jewelry is less likely to hit the teeth and cause damage. Piercings done farther back on the tongue are also less likely to hit the teeth. If braces are damaged, it slows down the orthodontic process. There is risk of injury to the lip, tongue or gums from the piercing getting stuck in the braces.
The American Dental Association recommends not piercing the mouth area, including the inside, because of the possibility of complications. Side effects can include loss of taste or sensation. Tongue piercings can cause the gums to recede.
Tongue piercings also carry a risk of infection and cause swelling, typically lasting for 10 to 14 days after the procedure. The jewelry must be kept in because of how quickly the tongue can heal. The piercing takes about three to four weeks to fully heal, but if the jewelry is removed the piercing can close up within hours.