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Oral Piercings …. Not a Harmless Trend

November 28, 2017

Oral piercings are popular amongst young people. They may look cool but they are not harmless. Oral piercings are placed in different areas of the mouth such as the lip, tongue, cheeks, frenum and uvula (the tiny tissue that hangs at the back of the throat) and they can interfere with speech, chewing and swallowing. Due to the risk of adverse health effects, the British Dental Association (BDA) and British Oral Health Foundation both advise against oral piercings 1,2.

Risks related to oral piercings:

Research has shown that 50% of people with lip piercings and 44% of people with a tongue piercing will suffer from gum recession due to their piercings, whilst tooth injuries will occur in 26% individuals with lip piercings and in up to 37% of individuals with tongue piercings. People with a lip piercing are 4.14 times more likely to develop gum recession than those without a lip piercing. People with a tongue piercing are 3 times more likely than people with no piercings to experience gum recession and tooth injuries3.


Types of oral piercings


If you already have piercings:


Anastasios, our associate dentist, has carried out research with the University of Athens on the potential impact of the oral piercings on the health of teeth and gums 4. He examined 110 people with 161 oral piercings in total and he found that the type of the jewellery and its position are important factors. The longer the period of time that someone has a piercing in their mouth, the more likely it is for damage on the teeth and gums to occur. Almost half of the participants who had the piercing for more than 3 years were found to have damage to one or more teeth or fillings and more than half had associated gum recession to the teeth next to the jewellery. Also in the presence of a piercing habit (biting rolling stroking or sucking), the damage to the teeth and gums was more prevalent. The results of this study have been published and can be accessed here.


  1. BDA Position. British Dental Association. Tongue piercing:
  2. Oral Health Foundation Position
  3. Hennequin-Hoenderdos NLSlot DEVan der Weijden GA. The prevalence of oral and peri-oral piercings in young adults: A systematic review. Int J Dent Hyg.2012 Aug;10(3):223-8. 
  4. Plessas APepelassi E. Dental and periodontal complications of lip and tongue piercing: prevalence and influencing factors. Aust Dent J. 2012 Mar;57(1):71-8.

This blog has been written by Anastasios Plessas, Associate Dentist


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