Can Oral Piercings Harm Your Smile?


Oral piercings include any type of piercing that’s in or around the oral cavity, including tongue rings, lip rings, and even cheek or upper lip piercings. Any type of oral piercing has the potential to affect your smile. How can piercings in the oral cavity affect the health of your teeth and gums?

Oral Piercings Can Chip Teeth

Oral piercings are typically made out of metal and have the potential to chip teeth. A tongue ring is the most likely to chip teeth as it’s located in the center of the mouth and is attached to your tongue, which is moving during eating and speaking. These movements can cause the jewelry to knock against your teeth, potentially causing chips and fractures that will require professional attention to fix.

Since tongue rings can be harsh on the teeth, they also have the potential to damage existing fillings, meaning they can cause fillings to age faster and even come out prematurely [1]. Without a filling to protect your tooth, you could see further decay and damage until you see your dentist.

Potential to Cause Gum Recession

Your teeth aren’t just at risk when it comes to piercings in the mouth—your gum tissue can be damaged as well. Lip rings and lip studs can rub against the gumline, causing gum recession that can lead to exposure of tooth roots and sensitive teeth.

Tongue rings can also cause gum recession since they can rest against the gumline on the backsides of teeth [2]. Gum recession can be difficult to reverse and may even require a gum graft, which is a surgical procedure, to restore the lost gum tissue.

Some Oral Piercings Can Lead to Sensitive Teeth

Since oral piercings have the potential to cause gum recession, they can lead to sensitive teeth. Gum tissue helps cover and protect our tooth’s roots, which contain nerves that can be very sensitive when exposed. Exposed tooth roots can lead to acute tooth sensitivity that’s painful.

Piercings such as tongue and lip rings can also wear away tooth enamel over time, which is the shiny protective layer on our teeth. Tooth enamel plays an essential role in protecting our teeth from bacteria and the temperature of hot or cold foods [3]. Without our enamel, teeth are more susceptible to not just sensitivity, but tooth discoloration and decay as well.

The Bottom Line

Oral piercings are a personal choice and a form of expression for many people. However, as with any body modification, it’s important to know the risks before engaging in a procedure that will have lasting effects on your body.

Oral piercings can certainly harm your smile through enamel damage, gum recession, and painful chips and fractures. If you have oral piercings or choose to get them, be sure to visit your dentist on a regular basis to check for damage and ensure your oral piercings aren’t causing irreversible damage to your teeth and gums!


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