Skip the mouth jewelry trend and let a healthy smile make the fashion statement

November 29, 2000

A case report released today in the November issue of the Journal of Periodontology found that piercing the tongue, lip or cheek could cause localized gingival recession. This can lead not only to an unattractive defect, but also leaves the tooth root more vulnerable to decay and periodontal disease. Researchers analyzed the case of a 26-year-old female who had localized gingival recession around the area of her lip piercing. The patient noticed soon after getting the oral barbell that her gums started to progressively recede in the area of the piercing. The barbell had direct contact with the area where the gums were receding. Since the patient's gingival recession was present only in the area of the oral metal device, the piercing was considered to be the cause of the gingival recession.

"Oral piercing has become a popular trend, and most people do not seek advice from a dental or medical professional prior to the piercing," said Michael McGuire, D.D.S, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). "Another important concern is hygienic maintenance of the pierced oral area. The mouth contains millions of bacteria, and infection is a common complication of oral piercing."

Other consequences of oral piercing may include swelling, increased flow of saliva, pain, fractured teeth, interference with speech and metal hypersensitivity. "Many people with oral piercing do not think about the harmful effects it can have on their oral and overall health," explained McGuire. "In this particular case, the doctors were surprised that the patient had a history of mitral valve prolapse, and she was unaware of the consequences of piercing on her medical status. In fact, a case of infective endocarditits following nasal piercing has been reported."

A referral to a periodontist and free oral health brochures are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or by using the Request Form on the AAP's Web site at www.perio.org.
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The American Academy of Periodontology is a 7,500-member association of dental professionals specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and in the placement and maintenance of dental implants. Periodontics is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.

For more information about this press release or a copy of the case report An Unusual Cause of Gingival Recession: Oral Piercing, contact Amy Duff at 312/573-3246 or amyd@perio.org.

A photo for this release is available at http://www.perio.org/consumer/piercing_pix.htm

American Academy of Periodontology

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