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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 00:04 GMT 01:04 UK
Lip piercings 'can shrink gums'
Image of Victoria Beckham's lip ring
Victoria Beckham's lip ring was fake
Having a lip piercing is bad for the gums and can make them shrink back from the teeth, dentists warn.

The longer people wear the piercing, the worse the recession is, researchers from Ohio State University in the US found - in a study of 58 young adults.

The British Dental Association reported in its official journal in 2003 of the same risk with tongue piercings.

Oral piercing - a trend growing in popularity - can cause life-threatening infections and reactions, it said.

It will only be one or two teeth affected - but they are front teeth, so not ones you want to lose
UK dental expert Professor Jimmy Steele, from Newcastle University

The Ohio team said that people with lip piercings were far more likely to have receding gums than those without piercings.

Gum recession is associated with gum disease, which can cause the loss of teeth that are otherwise healthy.

When the dental researchers examined the young people's mouths they found average recession depth was more than double in those with piercings, compared with those without piercings.

Dr Dimitris Tatakis and his team presented their findings at a conference of the International & American Association for Dental Research.

Tooth loss

Professor Jimmy Steele, from Newcastle University's Dental School in the UK, said people who had, or were considering getting, a lip piercing should take heed of the findings.

"The metal of the lip stud is physically rubbing over the gum at the neck of the tooth causing the gum to recede.

"Once this has happened, you don't get the gum back and it often becomes more difficult to clean and therefore even more prone to gum disease in the future.

"The effect is quite localised so it will only be one or two teeth affected - but they are front teeth, so not ones you want to lose."

He said it was only really a problem for long-term wearers.

He said taking the stud or ring out at night time and making sure the teeth were really clean would help reduce the risk of complications.

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02 Sep 03 |  Health


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