Piercings, how they affect oral health

The piercings adorn more and more mouths of adolescents and adults. These ornamentations, which are usually metallic, have a direct impact on oral health.

Anatomical structures such as the tongue, lips, cheeks, braces and uvula are the most common places where they can be placed, but whatever their placement this affects  the state of teeth and gums .

The teeth are the most affected by the presence of oral piercings. Trauma and dental fractures are caused by the habit of pushing and playing with the decoration or slope against the teeth through the tongue or lips. They are also caused naturally by the fact of having this foreign object in the oral cavity and by the performance of everyday actions in the area (eating, drinking, talking, etc.).

The most frequent injuries are fractures, abrasions, fissures, detachments of enamel spicules and pain. One of the problems derived from the abrasion and detachment of spicules is a greater sensitivity of the tooth when cold or sweet substances are ingested.

Among all types of piercings, those that are placed on the tongue (known as barbells) are more likely to create some type of dental injury, especially in the area of ​​the molars and lower incisors, compared to labial piercings.

Regarding the periodontal lesions derived from a buckle piercing, 64.3% of cases are due to the use of tongue piercings and 35.7% to those placed on the lower lip.

These alterations are usually originated by the repeated action of the metallic ornamentation against the periodontium, which causes a gingival recession (in a mild, moderate or severe degree) or a trauma in the neighboring tissues. It is also possible that the piercings cause an accumulation of bacterial plaque.

According to a study carried out by researchers at the Rey Juan Carlos University (URJC) on the most frequent hard tissue injuries, we found the fissure in the first place (96.5%). Next in number of incidents the abrasions (10.3%) and finally the pigmentations (3.5%) in the teeth.

Among the most common injuries we also find damage to the soft parts of the mouth, such as the gums, the tongue and the rest of the oral cavity. The Dental Clinic of the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid, highlights that 85% of the subjects investigated have some damage in these areas of the mouth.

Among the soft tissue lesions that appeared in the sample, due to contact between the jewel and these areas, the imprint (72%) is the most repeated, followed by hair removal (15%), keloids, that is, the exaggerated growth of scar tissue (7%) and ulcer (6%).

If we talk about periodontal disease, the data are not very favorable for the carriers of piercings in the oral area: practically half of the carriers of these ornamentations (48.1%) suffer from this disease that affects the gums and the structure of support of the teeth. The researchers also point out that it increases in subjects who wear metal piercing and whose placement is extra oral.