Researchers from Ohio State University - in a study of 58 young adults have found that having a lip piercing is bad for the gums and can make them shrink back from the teeth. The researchers also warn the longer people wear the piercing, the worse the recession.
Dr Dimitris Tatakis and his team presented their findings at a conference of the International & American Association for Dental Research.
The same risk with tongue piercings was reported by the British Dental Association in its official journal in 2003. The fashion for oral piercing is a growing trend but can cause life-threatening infections and reactions, and can affect the teeth, in particular the front teeth, the ones no one wants to lose, says UK dental expert Professor Jimmy Steele, from Newcastle University Dental School, and people who had, or were considering getting, a lip piercing should take heed of the findings.
The Ohio research shows that people with lip piercings were far more likely to have receding gums than those without piercings and gum recession is associated with gum disease, which can cause the loss of teeth that are otherwise healthy.
When the dental researchers examined the young people's mouths they found average recession depth was more than double in those with piercings, compared with those without piercings. The metal of the lip stud physically rubbing over the gum at the neck of the tooth causes the gum to recede and once this has happened the gum will not grow back and often becomes more difficult to clean and even more prone to gum disease. He says it is a problem for long-term wearers but taking the stud or ring out at night time and making sure the teeth were really clean would help reduce the risk of complications.