The picture hasn’t turned any rosier for oral piercings since we last blogged about some of their unintended consequences , including infection, broken or damaged teeth, and orthodontic issues.
One of the latest studies , published last month in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene, confirms earlier research about the damage tongue and lip piercings can do to your gums.
The research team recruited 18 patients with either a tongue or lip piercing (or both, in some cases). They then collected info from each, including measures of their periodontal (gum) health. Those with tongue piercings – 14 participants total – tended to have deeper periodontal pockets , more clinical attachment loss , and more gingival recession  around teeth close to the piercing site.
An earlier review of the science  in the same journal analyzed 15 studies focused on dental complications from oral piercings. Unlike the current study, this one found that lip piercings also contributed to receding gums. In fact, those with a lip piercing were more than 4 times more likely to experience gingival recession than those without.
But gum damage wasn’t the only problem observed.
Tooth injuries were observed in 26% individuals with lip piercings and in up to 37% of individuals with tongue piercings.
Subsequent studies, such as this one  in Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry further confirm such findings.
But there’s another issue with oral piercings: the placement of metal in the body.
One study  published earlier this year looked for the presence of metals from oral piercings in the soft tissues of the mouth. Indeed, at least in the small group of teens who participated in the study – 16 individuals total – metal was found, including particles of metals such as aluminum and tin.
Hyperplastic, leukoedematous, and lichenoid lesions were observed in the mucosa, as well as lesions associated with metallosis of the lip skin. Cytological smears showed the presence of particles inside the epithelial cells; the particles were found to contain aluminum, tungsten, and molybdenum. In one case requiring surgical removal of the piercing, histological examination of the tissue associated with the piece of jewelry showed the presence particles containing aluminum, iron, and tin inside multinucleated giant cells.
The authors go on to suggest that the ion particles released from metal piercings “could have been adjuvant factors in the development of the observed lesions.”
But there’s another issue with placing metal in the body: It changes the energetic balance of the body, the flow of qi, often with deleterious effects. As one naturopathic doctor has put it ,
When the bodies’ Qi is compromised due to diet, stress, anxiety, surgery, aging (hormonal reduction), medications, physical accidents, disease, environmental toxins including metal insertions, the energy may become stagnant. Energy imbalances reduce our natural immunity and set the stage for chronic or long term diseases.
Metals, no matter what type will interfere will this process. Gold is an alloy (never 100% pure for jewelry) that tonifies the body, while silver will calm or sedate. When the acupuncture point is active due to a continued piercing 24/7 the area may become over-stimulated. This may lead to possible organ burn-out or immune weakness setting off chain reactions to various parts of the body – depending on your inherent genetic or environmental weaknesses.
When these metals are inserted into certain points, the body either speeds up (hyperactive, hormonal burnout, addictions to stimulant foods, alcohol, medications, etc.), while silver may lead to anxiety, stress, depression and a lack of ambition or clarity. Once a person removes metal piercings, they may have to chelate or detox their body as many people absorb toxins from the metals – similar to metal dental amalgams.
The area of the tongue that’s most commonly pierced is associated with the stomach and spleen, and indeed, cases of gastrointestinal problems associated with tongue piercing  can be found in the literature, as well as clinical observations .
The lips are also energetically linked to the stomach and spleen, as well as the intestines, liver, and colon.
Whether any particular piercing becomes a burden depends on any number of factors, of course, not the least of which is the state of the individual’s biological terrain . Some may be able to tolerate the energetic effects without much issue, while for others, a piercing could be the proverbial last straw.
As ever, the big picture needs to be taken into account.
Image by Tommy T , via Wikimedia Commons