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When properly done, piercing the tongue or lip only takes a few seconds with minimal pain or discomfort. However, the healing process takes long, is rapid and may lead to complications. The healing may appear okay in the short term but in case of an infection, can have dreadful effects in the long run.
People who pierce their lips and tongues can suffer from receding gums. A research conducted by a team from Ohio State University, led by professor Dimitris Tatakis, showed that most cases of receding gums are as a result of oral jewelry. According to the research, the longer one wears oral jewelry, the greater the extent of gum damage. Other factors like age or gender do not matter.
It is not the piercings that cause the problem, but the jewelry worn. When the jewelry rubs across the gum line, it causes wear and tear, which damages the gum. Apart from damaging the gums, a person can also suffer nerve damage, chipped teeth, inflammation on the pierced spot or lose teeth when the gum and bone start to pull away.
In July 2003, the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that 41% of people with pierced lips had receding gums compared to 7% of those without pierced lips. This result was from a sample size of 29 young adults (22 years old) with pierced lips against a similar number of participants without pierced lips.
Dr. John K. Brooks, clinical associate professor at the University Dental School, warns of this public health issue related to style and fashion that is posing a dental risk to young adults. The doctor hopes to spread his message mostly to people considering oral piercing.