Today’s Trendy Oral Piercings may Lead to Tomorrow’s Periodontal Issues, Says Collegeville Periodontist

COLLEGEVILLE AND PHILADELPHIA, PA – Lots of young adults are getting oral piercings these days as a form of self-expression, but studies show that these artistic gestures could lead to some long term oral health risks.

Case reports dating back 11 years have found that oral piercings can cause gum recession, which can lead to decay and periodontal disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that destroys the tissue that supports the bone that holds the teeth in place, according to the AAP.

Collegeville Periodontist Dr. David DiGiallorenzo has treated patients with gum recession and chipped teeth that resulted from piercings in the tongue, lips and cheeks.

“Many people looking to express themselves artistically turn to piercings instead of tattoos because they feel as though the jewelry can be taken out later, whereas tattoos are permanent,” said DiGiallorenzo, who has a Williamsport and Collegeville periodontics practice. “Unfortunately, we’re finding that piercings can leave lasting effects long after the jewelry is removed.”

In March 2002, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry and Ohio State University College of Dentistry researchers studied 52 young adults with tongue piercings and found evidence of gum recession in 35 percent of the adults who had their tongues pierced for four or more years, according to the Journal of Periodontology. Of those who wore long-stemmed barbells for two or more years, half suffered from gum recession.

Almost half of those in the study with barbell jewelry had suffered chipped teeth as a result.

“A lot of people wind up chipping their teeth as a result of playing with the jewelry in their mouth or accidentally biting the jewelry while eating,” DiGiallorenzo said.

In November 2000, the Journal of Periodontology referenced a case in which a woman with a lip piercing suffered from gum recession in the area around the piercing. The barbell jewelry rubbed against her gum and caused the deterioration.

Those with lip rings also run the risk of wearing a groove in their teeth where the ring rests, said DiGiallorenzo, a Collegeville dental implants specialist.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, infection also is a possibility with oral piercings.

“There is so much bacteria in our mouths,” DiGiallorenzo said. “That means that there’s a good chance of getting an infection at the piercing site.”

The tongue also has major blood vessels that can spread infection throughout the body, including the brain. Prolonged bleeding, swelling and potential nerve damage are other possible complications with tongue piercing, according to the American Dental Association.

Oral piercings also can result in transmitting diseases, such as the herpes simplex virus and hepatitis B and C.

“There are lots of ways for people to express themselves without running the risk of causing such significant damage,” DiGiallorenzo said. “I would not recommend oral piercings as a healthy form of self-expression.”

Learn More
If you would like to learn more about the potential complications associated with oral piercings or you wish to schedule a free consultation with one of the Collegeville periodontists in Dr. David DiGiallorenzo’s office, please call 610-228-4366 in Collegeville; 570-505-6908 in Williamsport; or visit his Web site:

About Dr. David Digiallorenzo
Dr. David Digiallorenzo, or “Dr. D,” graduated from Temple University School of Dentistry in 1993 and completed a specialty in periodontics and dental implantology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995.

He is a past associate clinical professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Periodontics. He teaches nationally and internationally and is a regular contributor to dental literature.

Dr. D’s private practice in suburban Philadelphia concentrates on periodontics, dental implantology, advanced reconstructive case management and TMJ treatment. It is a unique dental spa with two full-time massage therapists that specialize in reflexology, reiki, massage, aromatherapy and homeopathy. This combination creates a relaxed, optimal healing response.
Dr. D has two office locations: 184 W. Main St., Ste. 200, in Collegeville, PA; and 121 E. Fourth St. in Williamsport, PA.

© 2010 Sinai Marketing and Dr. David Digiallorenzo.

Meet Dr. D

Dr. David DiGiallorenzo received his training at the University of Pennsylvania in the Department of Periodontics and Periodontal Prosthesis in the early 1990s. His training included prosthodontics, orthodontics, periodontics, and advanced oral reconstructive techniques, including oral implantology.

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