While it may look fashionable, lip jewelry is not without drawbacks. Lip rings, barbells and studs can have both immediate and long-term adverse effects on the lips, teeth and gums. At least 50 percent of people with lip rings experience injury to their teeth or gums. Such injuries can become more severe the longer the rings are worn.
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Immediate effects after piercing often include lip bruising and pain. Rarely, a piercing can result in infection, significant swelling, prolonged bleeding or slow healing of the lip. These complications are usually mild and typically resolve with proper oral hygiene, including antiseptic mouthwash (Listerine, Closys), and refraining from smoking. If they worsen or fail to resolve, contact a dentist or physician.
Long-term wearing of lip rings can negatively affect the neighboring teeth, causing chipping and abrasion of their surfaces. This results from the metal repeatedly scraping against the tooth or the development of a habit of biting on the ring. In a study reported in the February 2006 issue of "Dental Traumatology," almost 70% of people with a lip stud developed gum recession at the nearby teeth. This can lead to the teeth being sensitive to cold or the development of pockets -- spaces -- between the gums and teeth, which can become infected. If untreated, the surrounding bone may be destroyed, causing loose teeth. Permanent lip scarring may also occur.
Anyone wearing lip rings should remove and clean them daily and have regular dental examinations to check for teeth or gum damage.