Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 12:43 UK

Tongue stud 'brain fatality risk'

Tongue stud
Piercings run the risk of infection

Deadly brain abscesses should be added to the list of risks of having a tongue piercing, say doctors.

Archives of Neurology reports how a 22-year-old man who died in hospital following multiple brain abscesses weeks after getting his tongue pierced.

The man's Israeli doctors warn infection can spread in the bloodstream from the piercing up to the brain.

Piercing can more commonly lead to chipped teeth and oral infections, and sometimes heart problems, say experts.

Despite the risks, tongue piercings remain popular.

The clear message is that oral piercing is ill advised and should be avoided
Professor Damien Walmsley
Scientific adviser to the British Dental Association

Celebrities like Spice Girl Mel B and Princess Anne's daughter Zara Phillips have had their tongues pierced.

But experts say people should think twice and put their health before fashion.

Professor Damien Walmsley, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association, said: "Dentists are all too aware of the health problems that can be caused by oral piercings.

"There are many potential complications, ranging from pain and swelling to chipped or cracked teeth. Patients who have oral piercings can also suffer with recession of the gums and prolonged bleeding.

"Piercing of oral sites also carries with it a risk of infection. The clear message is that oral piercing is ill advised and should be avoided."

Problems associated with body piercing can be down to poor hygiene during the procedure or people failing to heed advice about follow-up care at home.

Professional piercers maintain that hygienic, precision piercing rarely causes complications.

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