• oral piercing;
  • peri-oral piercing;
  • prevalence;
  • systematic review



To determine the prevalence of oral and/or peri-oral piercings in young adults based on a systematic review of the available literature.

Material and methods

The MEDLINE-PubMed, Cochrane-CENTRAL and EMBASE databases were comprehensively searched through April 2012 to identify appropriate studies. The prevalence of oral and/or peri-oral piercings was evaluated in the general population, as well as by gender and by anatomical site.


An independent screening of 1711 unique titles and abstracts resulted in 13 publications that met the eligibility criteria. In total, 11 249 participants (mean age, 20.6 years) were questioned and/or examined for oral and/or peri-oral piercings. In the studies that provided information concerning the presence of oral and/or peri-oral piercings, the prevalence varied from 0.8% to 12%, resulting in a mean prevalence of 5.2%. When examined based on anatomical site, the most common sites were the tongue (a prevalence of 5.6%), followed by the lip (1.5%). Oral piercings were more prevalent in women (5.6%) than men (1.6%).


Among the populations that were studied, oral and/or peri-oral piercings were observed in a relatively small percentage (5.2%) of young adults. The prevalence was approximately four times higher among females when compared with males. On the basis of the literature, the tongue was the most common oral site for a piercing. Dental care professionals are in an ideal position to offer information regarding safe piercings and to provide advice regarding oral hygiene, aftercare and possible complications.