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Body piercing may be fashionable, but scientists are warning that it can have a negative impact on oral health.
A new study from the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has found that 25 per cent of piercings in body areas other than the earlobe lead to complications.
That rises to 50 per cent for tongue piercings, which confirms the British Dental Association's warning that oral piercing is particularly prone to infection.
Apparently, food debris tends to gather around studs or rings in the tongue, lip or cheeks and cause bacterial infections.
Dr Fortune Ncube, a consultant epidemiologist at the HPA who led the research, stated: "It is vital that anyone considering a piercing ensures that they go to a reputable piercer to reduce the possibility of having problems."
The American Dental Association suggests that anyone thinking of getting an oral piercing should reconsider. It notes that common symptoms after such piercing include pain, swelling, infection, an increased flow of saliva and injuries to the gum tissue.
More seriously, it warns that if a blood vessel was in the path of the needle, "severe and difficult-to-control bleeding can result".
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