Teenagers who get oral piercings are at a significantly higher risk for gum disease and tooth fractures, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Israeli army and the School of Dental Medicine at Tel Aviv University, and published in the American Dental Journal.
“There is a repeated trauma to the area of the gum,” researcher Liran Levin said. “You can see these young men and women playing with the piercing on their tongue or lip. This act prolongs the trauma to the mouth and in many cases is a precursor to anterior tooth loss.”
In a prior study, published in the journal Dental Traumatology, the same researchers interviewed 400 people between the ages of 18 and 19 on their piercing history, their knowledge of world health and their knowledge of the risks of oral piercings. The researchers then conducted world exams on all participants.
In the more recent study, the researchers reviewed data from a number of dental research centers around the world. They found that 15 to 20 percent of teenagers with oral piercings can be considered at a high risk for gum disease and tooth fractures. This elevated risk is not found in teens without oral piercings or in people of other ages who do have the piercings.
Approximately 10 percent of teenagers in New York have an oral piercing, compared with 3.4 percent in Finland and 20 percent in Israel.
Levin warned that gum disease and tooth fracture are long-term health complications that can eventually lead to permanent tooth loss. In addition, less common but more severe complications can occur.
“There are short-term complications to piercings in low percentages of teens, and in rare cases a piercing to the oral cavity can cause death,” Levin said. “Swelling and inflammation of the area can cause edema, which disturbs the respiratory tract.” source