The gap-toothed look has worked for
singers Madonna and Amy Winehouse and True Blood actress Anna Paquin, but
dentists are warning that people with pierced tongues could inadvertently find
themselves with similar, unwanted gaps.
According to a new study, playing
with a tongue stud could lead to a gap between the front teeth.
The research, carried out at the
University at Buffalo in New York, suggested that tongue piercing could be a
major cause of unnecessary orthodontic issues.
The report claimed that those with
tongue piercings were likely to push the metal stud up against their teeth and
consequently cause gaps and other problems to arise.
Chief executive of the British
Dental Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter, said the study highlights the risks
that tongue piercings have on oral health.
Mr. Carter said: “It’s certainly
something to think about before going out to get a tongue piercing. The
temptation of playing with the stud in the mouth would be very high and in time
this could lead to hundreds of pounds worth of corrective treatment.
“The results of this study stress
the risks that are associated with tongue piercings. As well as causing an
apparent gap, oral piercings can also lead to chipped teeth and infection.
“In order to avoid such health
problems in the future, along with the spiralling costs of any related
treatment, I would advise people to stay clear of tongue piercings.”
Lead author of the study, Sawsan
Tabbaa, said that “force, over time, moves teeth” and that the results are
caused by people playing with their studs crop up in a “very high per cent of
A professor of orthodontics at the
University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, Ms Tabbaa explained that tooth
damage was common in both past and current case studies.
The current study featured a
26-year-old female patient and showed that a space, known to dentists as
diastema, between the upper front teeth had appeared during a period of seven
years, as the metal bar was pushed against and between the teeth.
The patient provided researchers
with photographs to show that she had no diastema before having her tongue
pierced. It was strongly thought that positioning of the tongue stud between
the maxillary central incisors caused the midline space between the front
The only solution was for the
patient to wear a fixed brace for an extensive period of time.
The author concluded that tongue
piercing could result in serious injuries, not just to teeth but said they have
also been associated with haemorrhages, infections, trauma to the gums and, in
the worst cases, brain abscesses.
The results of the study were
published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics.