Exceptional Dental Care for NorthShore Boston Families

Lip Piercing

With oral piercings becoming increasingly popular among young people in particular, it is important to recognize that lip piercings can cause a variety of health problems including gum disease. People of any age who are considering getting their lip pierced should take this information into account and decide against undergoing the piercing process for the sake of their oral health. Those who already have a lip piercing should remove the item from their lip or be aware they are likely to face a higher risk of gum disease in the future if they fail to do so.

The British Dental Journal, a prestigious dental industry publication, recently published a report calling attention to the problem of gum erosion that results from lip piercings. Dentistry professionals are well aware of the fact that lip piercings can cause a ‘persons gums to recede.

Many patients, however, especially those in younger age groups, are not aware of the health complications that lip piercings can cause.

The report in the British Dental Journal illustrated the problem by referring to a 30-year-old female patient who had multiple tattoos, body piercings and upper and lower lip piercings.

Six years after receiving the lower lip piercing, the woman opted to remove it for aesthetic reasons. Even then, she was still unconcerned about how the piercing was adversely affecting her dental health. When she went to the dentist she was told that the gum erosion caused by the piercing in her lower lip was so severe that it was irreversible. At this time the dentist strongly suggested that she remove the piercing in her upper lip, which was already leading to moderate erosion in the area of the upper left canine.

This ‘womans situation underscores a larger issue with the regulatory process for establishments that offer lip piercings and other body piercings. In many jurisdictions these establishments are required to provide information about immediate or short-term health risks but not long-term risks such as the likelihood of gum disease or gum recession.

As oral piercings and other forms of body modification grows in popularity among young people, adolescents and young adults in particular should be aware that lip piercings can cause irreversible gum recession that can lead to tooth loss. Some people have suggested that wearing surgical grade plastic jewelry in lip piercings rather than metal jewelry can help avert the problem of gum erosion, but little to no credible evidence has been published to support that claim.

Unfortunately, information about the risks of oral piercings is often unsubstantiated hearsay that comes from piercers or their colleagues rather than from reliable sources in the scientific community. It is up to medical and dentistry professionals to advise their patients that lip piercing can lead to severe problems such as gum recession, gum disease and tooth loss.

Quynh Bui, D.M.D.
Redstone Dental, Stoneham, MA

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