Type of lip piercing can cause receding gums

A form of lip piercing in which people place a stud in the middle of the bottom lip where it meets the chin may put people at risk of receding gums, according to new research reported Thursday.

Investigators at Ohio State University in Columbus found that people with this type of piercing were significantly more likely than people without to develop receding gums in the front bottom teeth, where the stud of the piercing rubs against the gums.

“What you have is basically mechanical trauma hitting the gums,” study author Dr. Dimitris N. Tatakis told AMN Health. “Inevitably, they’re going to have problems.”

Tatakis explained that when gums recede, they creep down the teeth, exposing the root. This makes teeth ultra-sensitive to cold, and more susceptible to cavities, he said.

Moreover, if people have an uneven gum line, it’s harder for them to brush and clean their teeth, putting them at risk of plaque buildup, which can cause long-term problems like gingivitis, Tatakis added.

He emphasized that the problem only occurs with lip piercings that include a stud on the inside of the lip that hits the gum line, and only affects the part of the gums that touches that stud.

As part of a study Tatakis and his colleagues presented Thursday during the 83rd General Session of the International Association for Dental Research in Baltimore, they measured gum recession in 58 people. Twenty-nine had this type of lip piercing.

They found that 40 percent of people with this type of lip piercings had receding gums in their bottom front teeth, compared with only 7 percent of people without any lip piercings.

And the longer people had the piercings, the more likely they were to develop gum recession, Tatakis said in an interview. He said he found recession in 80 percent of people who had the piercings for more than 36 months.

Tatakis noted that good brushing and oral hygiene is always helpful, but there’s no way people can prevent recession if they wear an object that constantly rubs up against their gum line.

“I don’t think there’s anything they can do, barring removing it,” he said.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.