Lip Piercing Leads to Gum Disease

Lip Piercing Leads to Gum Disease. Dr. Bui of Redstone Dental in Stoneham shares her thoughts on why you should pass on this fashion statement.

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. Dental professionals are well

aware of the fact that lip piercings can cause a person's 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. The woman's lower

lip piercing led to serious erosion in her gum at the base of her left

first incisor, one of the four front teeth on the bottom. The gum recession

was so severe that the tooth grew loose and a significant amount of the

root was visible.


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 negatively affecting her oral health. When

she finally went to the dentist she was informed 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 woman's 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 dental 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.

Owner, Redstone Dental, Stoneham, MA                                       



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