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Tongue piercing is a growing craze among teens today. Traced back as an ancient ritual practice, this type of body piercing has been popularized greatly in part by celebrities and other popular personalities. One will see 18-year-olds going to body art shops and having their tongue pierced. However, as popular and trendy as this type of body art is, tongue piercing is known to cause damage to upper front teeth.

A study, published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics, revealed that tongue piercing can be a damaging oral practice that can cause gaps between the upper front teeth. This may result in dishing out huge amounts of money (costing thousands of dollars) to fix its damaging effects.

Researchers from the School of Dental Medicine's orthodontic clinic at the University of Buffalo came across a female patient, about 26 years of age, who had developed a huge gap between the upper front teeth. She also had her tongue pierced with a barbell-shaped stud.

When asked, the woman revealed that she did not have gaps in her teeth prior to her tongue piercing. It was only when she got her tongue pierced that those gaps showed up. She admitted that she was fond of repeatedly pushing the piercing stud against her front teeth. The researchers deduced that it was her tongue piercing that caused the spaces between her front teeth.

The barbell is never removed because the tongue is so vascular that leaving the stud out can result in healing of the opening in the tongue, lead author Prof. Sawsan Tabbaa says. So it makes perfect sense that constant pushing of the stud against the teeth, every day with no break, will move them or drive them apart.

Prof. Tabbaa also stated that tongue piercings can also fracture the teeth and cause gum infection, trauma and hemorrhage.

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