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Int J Dent Hyg. 2011 May;9(2):101-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5037.2010.00504.x.

Complications of oral and peri-oral piercings: a summary of case reports.

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Department of Periodontology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA), Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



To systemically search the literature for case reports concerning adverse effects associated with oral and peri-oral piercings on oral health and/or general health.


  MEDLINE and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) were searched up through 1 April 2010 to identify appropriate studies.


Independent screening of the titles and abstracts identified 1169 papers from MEDLINE and 73 papers from CENTRAL. Subsequently, 67 papers describing 83 cases were processed for data extraction. The case reports described complications in oral and general health. In this review, 96 complications were described for 83 cases. Of the 96 reported complications, 81% (n=84) occurred in cases of tongue piercings, 20% (n=21) in cases of lip piercings and 1% (n=1) in cases of other oral piercings. In eight cases, subjects had two oral and/or peri-oral piercings. Gingival recession was the most frequently described complication. Periodontitis and gingival recession were seen at the central mandibular incisors. Tooth fracture is mostly reported in subjects with tongue piercings.


Among the case reports, there were complications like normal post-operative swelling and localized inflammation but also more serious complication that may even have been life threatening. Also in the long term, piercing may be associated with gingival recession and tooth fracture. Therefore, oral and/or peri-oral piercings are not without risks. Patients considering a piercing should be made aware of this. Those patients wearing a piercing should be screened by a dental professional for possible complications on a regular basis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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