An article recently appeared in the Huffington Post with the headline: Tongue Piercings Could Lead to Severe Brain Infections. Clearly this was most unfortunate for the individuals who were described in the article (and their families), but these types of extreme complications are very rare. I penned a response and posted it to their site.
I've personally performed over 40,000 piercings that have healed without any grave (or even serious) complications. As it says in my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing:
"A great deal of hype and hysteria about body piercing is perpetuated by the media and by conservative religious, medical, and educational communities. They describe piercing as a highly dangerous behavior related to everything from juvenile delinquency to cancer and death.
Usually, the only piercings that receive attention in the press are the problematic ones, which skew the statistics and magnify the perils. Thousands upon thousands of piercings heal without incident every year, but nobody hears about them because they are not newsworthy."
For factual information, see the APP's brochure on Oral Piercing Risks and Safety Measures:
You greatly minimize the hazards of piercing by becoming an educated consumer. Serious complications are extremely unlikely if:
• You are in good health
• You get pierced by a qualified practitioner who follows all hygiene precautions
• You wear quality jewelry of an appropriate material, size, and style
• You consistently follow sensible cleaning and care procedures
Medical Liaison for the Association of Professional Piercers