22 Jun

New study highlights dental dangers of tongue and lip piercings

A new study has highlighted the dental risks of tongue and lip piercings.

Researchers from University Medicine Greifswald, Germany, found that people who have oral piercings are more likely to have bleeding gums, receding gums and deep pockets around the teeth. Professor at the university and lead author of the study, Dr Clemens Walter, explained that these signs are symptoms of periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.

Dr Walter and his team analysed data from eight studies, which involved more than 400 people. Within the group, 236 had lip piercings and 236 had tongue piercings. Around 20% of participants had more than one oral piercing.

Researchers evaluated data from studies comparing oral tissue from around the piercing with tissue in other parts of the mouth. The team found that in 60% of the studies, people had deeper pockets around the teeth closest to a tongue piercing and 75% had wider gaps between their teeth.

Two-thirds of studies indicated that participants were more likely to experience bleeding gums and all the studies that investigated gum health in people with oral piercings found that those with pierced tongues and lips had receding gums. Over 70% of the studies that analysed the impact of lip piercings on the gums showed that people with a pierced lip had receding gums.

Dr Walter said that the research suggest that oral piercings have a negative effect on oral health. Tongue piercings are particularly dangerous. The studies show that damage is “particularly notable around the bottom two front teeth.” These teeth, called the mandibular incisors, are important for chewing and biting.

Gum disease is the most common cause of lost teeth in adults. Having an oral piercing increases the risk of symptoms of advanced gum disease, putting people at risk of swelling, pain, gum recession and premature tooth loss.