What Are the Dangers of Lip Piercing?

What Are the Dangers of Lip Piercing?

Piercings and body modification are more popular than ever — it is now “mainstream” to have a tongue, lip, or other “alternative” piercing.

The dangers associated with lip piercings are not obvious. You rarely see someone with a new lip piercing in excruciating pain or facing the potential of infection — so it seems relatively safe. As with any piercing, tattooing, or body modification procedure, complications from getting a lip piercing can really add up and get worse over time.

If you are considering getting a lip piercing, you need to understand the potential complications. You could be doing permanent damage to your face or your mouth, especially if the procedure is done by someone with little experience or regard for health.

Why Lip Piercings?

People get their lip pierced for a variety of reasons. Some people are committed to body modification as an art form, still other people just like the way a lip piercing looks.

Lip piercings are seen as “seductive”, sexy, alluring . . . for some body modification enthusiasts, piercings and tattoos are themselves addictive. Since there is only so much modification you can do to your body, a lip piercing is a pretty common piercing. Piercings are becoming acceptable in the workplace, so people are starting to feel more free and open about their body piercings.

Because there are more lip piercings now than ever, there’s been a similar rise in the number of lip piercing complications. A lip piercing affects multiple body parts at once, from the lips and teeth to the tongue and jaw. Our mouths are intricate tools that require all parts be in perfect working order — throwing in a piercing can lead to complications in the mouth, especially if the piercing isn’t cared for properly.

Possible Lip Piercing Complications

What Are the Dangers of Lip Piercing?

While you may go your entire life wearing a lip piercing and experiencing no discomfort, you could also face some serious health problems due to your piercing. The more experienced your piercing artist is, the more likely you are to have a successful piercing experience. The main threats to the mouth from piercing are from erosion to the tissues of the mouth and the teeth, and infection from piercing equipment.

When a lip piercing procedure goes wrong, it goes really wrong. An inexperienced piercing artist may not do the piercing the right way and damage the tissues of the lip itself. In some cases, a person’s body may simply reject the piercing even though the piercing was performed perfectly. There are many reasons a lip piercing may go wrong.

Complications from lip piercings usually take a while to appear, sometimes even months or years after the piercing itself. Many of the dangers of lip piercing take time to develop and may show few or no symptoms along the way. The point is, you need to know the potential dangers of lip piercing to make an educated decision about having your lip pierced. If you know the potential dangers and damage to your mouth, and you still feel that your desire for this particular brand of body art outweighs the dangers, it is time to have your lip piercing done.

The various consequences of lip piercing are discussed below.


It is easy to pass infection when needles are involved. Infections after a lip piercing procedure could be caused by improperly disinfected piercing equipment, an unsterile piercing environment, or poor after care on the part of the person who got the lip piercing. Follow the piercing artist’s instructions for best results.

Nerve damage

You can cause immediate and potentially permanent nerve damage during the actual piercing if the piercing artist you’re using doesn’t know where to place the piercing.

Tooth erosion/cracking

Much of the damage caused by lip piercings has to do with your teeth and gums. If your piercing artist doesn’t locate your piercing in the precise spot it should go, the jewelry in your lip will rub against your teeth, causing the enamel to erode or crack.

Tooth decay

Once teeth begin to erode and the enamel starts to wear away, decay is just around the corner. Tooth decay eventually leads to tooth loss.

Gum erosion

Gum erosion happens when your lip piercing jewelry rubs against your gums. Gum erosion starts out as a little bit of bleeding and can turn into full on gum disease in no time.

Gum recession

The end result of gum erosion is gum recession — in recession, your gums shrink away around the spot where your jewelry rubs against it, leading to further tooth problems and even halitosis.

Tooth scrambling

When your gums start to recede, your jawbone is exposed to infection and erosion. Infection in the jaws causes teeth to loosen and eventually change position. Scrambled teeth are the first sign of gum problems, usually caused by gum erosion in the case of lip piercing complications.

Sensitive teeth

Gum recession also causes tooth sensitivity.


Potentially the scariest result of a bad lip piercing experience is the acquisition of HIV. Most piercing artists use perfectly clean tools and pierce clients in a sterile environment, but all it takes is one bad piercing decision on the part of the piercing artist to transmit HIV or another STD.


Much like the risk of acquiring HIV, the risk of acquiring hepatitis from a poor lip piercing job is much higher than in the population without body piercings. Make sure your lip piercing artist is working in a sterile environment, using clean tools, and knows the proper lip piercing procedures. Check your local shop’s most recent health inspections for an idea of how clean they are.

Altering the body is everyone’s right, and piercings and tattoos as body art are now more popular than ever — but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be honest about the possible consequences of this kind of body modification. If you are a smart consumer and a self health advocate, you can protect yourself even when getting a lip or other body piercing. Keep your long-term health in mind when making decisions about body modification.

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