Facial piercings are increasingly common. While external piercings, such as ear and eyebrow rings, are visibly apparent, intraoral and extraoral piercing may not be readily visible on initial inspection. An awareness and suspicion for recent lip, labret, tongue, or other oral mucosal piercings should be performed in any trauma patient as they may cause intraoral damage, produce artifact and diminished CT scan quality if not removed, and interfere during intubation. Common nontraumatic complications of intraoral include peri-piercing cellulitis, abscess formation, hemorrhage, penetrating wounds, dental injury, and granuloma formation around a stud. Though infrequent, systemic infection may result. If the ball comes off the post, it may be swallowed or, rarely, aspirated. Playing with tongue rings may result in lingual surface tooth abrasion, erosion, chipping, fracture, and gingival resorption.
Piercing should be removed prior to any CT scan if possible. For localized hemorrhage after a recent piercing, direct pressure should be applied. If bleeding persists, consider removal of the piercing. Any infection surrounding a piercing warrants removal of the stud as it will serve as a nidus for continued infection. Chest radiographs are required to evaluate for stud aspiration. Advise patients with chipped teeth to remove the bar or shorten the post.