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Lip Piercings – Why Do Dentist’s Have a Problem With This?

Lip Piercings – are they a problem for teeth?

Lip piercings are often metal and quite hard.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with all lip piercings.  I do point out to my patients though if I think the piercing is causing damage to their teeth or gums.  I have even seen such extensive trauma from ‘playing’ with the lip or tongue piercing that the gums are stripped from the teeth causing severe recession and even bone loss.  These are permanent changes to the teeth that may not be able to be repaired.

Our patient couldn’t help but ‘play’ with the piercing which damaged the teeth.

I do have many patients with piercings in their lips or tongues that really don’t seem to catch the ends of the stud on their teeth.  I have others that can’t leave the piercings alone. When this leads to tooth chipping, gum stripping away from the tooth and the bone below and even to bone loss it is time to get rid of the piercing.  Sometimes, when the lip or tongue piercing is removed there is scarring or lumps in the tissue from the trauma that the piercing caused.  Of course, occasionally there is no evidence of the lip piercing for some people after the area has healed.   A couple have accidentally bit down on a stud and caused one or more teeth to fracture even when they had never caused any trauma before.

My patient demonstrating how they work the flat end of the piercing between their teeth.

My patient demonstrating how they work the flat end of the piercing between their teeth.

Our dental office is concerned with health and minimizing trauma from clenching and grinding and other habits to preserve teeth for a lifetime.  We know the difficulty and cost of restoring chipped teeth.  Some gum and bone defects can never be restored to ideal health once the damage is done.

For our patient’s that really want to have a lip or tongue piercing, I would recommend the following:

  1. Make sure facility is very concerned with cleanliness and proper procedures.
  2. When possible, substitute softer materials like acrylic which may be gentler to the teeth.
  3. Try not to ‘play with’ or ‘worry’ the piercings with your teeth.
  4. Try not to rub the stud or ball against your teeth and gums.

There you have it.  My short and sweet (I hope) ‘lecture’ on piercings.  Our office would be happy to help make sure you are doing okay with your lip or tongue piercing.  Your health is our priority.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS

Restoring Teeth/Restoring Smiles