Can mouth jewelry or piercings lead to periodontal disease?

Steven Bradway

Oral jewelry and piercing can lead to tooth loss by damaging gum tissue and bone around teeth, but it does not cause periodontal disease. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two major periodontal diseases. Gingivitis is recognized as inflammation of the gum tissue. All humans experience gingivitis at some time in their life, but it does not cause bone loss or tooth loss. On the other hand, periodontitis causes tooth loss because it damages the bone that supports teeth. This is an inherited disease that affects 10-25% of the population. The bone damage is caused by the way the immune system affects bone metabolism as it defends us against the bacteria that grow in our gums and around our teeth. The soft tissue and bone damage caused by oral jewelry is simply caused by trauma. The jewelry is usually located in the tongue, cheek or lips. When these tissues move, the jewelry studs impact the gums and underlying bone. Repeated impact over time damages the gum tissue first and then underlying bone, but is not a painful process. We see several cases of severe recession associated with oral jewelry each year; two have resulted in tooth loss.

Some research suggests that mouth jewelry or piercings can lead to periodontal disease. Some documented complications it can cause include inflammation, swelling, bleeding, pain, infection, receding gums, hypersensitivity to metal, increased saliva flow, interference with speaking, damage to teeth, and even fractures.

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