Tongue piercings are like pleasant little surprises when you discover someone has one.
You notice a flick of metallic shine between someone's pearly whites as they speak or share a laugh.
Oral piercings bring out the beauty of the mouth by furthering it as a form of expression.
However, they are not for the faint of heart. As with all piercings, they come with risks.
Oral piercings in their own right have a different kind of process and care than other external piercings.
Knowing of these risks beforehand and educating yourself on the process will help you to take precautions to minimize them.
In this article, we will cover the different kinds of tongue piercings, the process, and care.
Author Margo Demello explains in her Encyclopedia of Body Adornment
that, "members of a number of Northwest Indian tribes such as the Haida, Kwakiutl, and Tlingit pierced their tongues as an offering to the gods. In addition, Fakirs and Sufis from the middle east practiced tongue piercing as a form of sacrifice, and as proof of trance state."
Today, the piercing is what you make of it. With the tongue being the tool with which we express ourselves, the platform is heightened even more so as it is adorned with piercings. Everyone has a different perspective of their tongue jewelry and reason for why they got it. Some claim it is erotic, others as purely ornamental.
The variation of tongue piercing that you get will ultimately depend on your tongue anatomy. Your Piercer should inspect and go over what piercing and jewelry type would work with your anatomy beforehand.
There are many variations of tongue piercings but the three common types are:
1. Traditional Central Tongue Piercing
A popular position
because it minimizes visibility, keeps jewelry away from teeth, and still allows for fun and function. Just like the name reveals, the piercing is in the middle of the tongue positioned safely away from central nerves and arteries that are usually found towards the sides of the tongue (clearly visible under the tongue).
2. Tongue Tip Piercing
A piercing within the first 1/2 inch of the tip of the tongue. It is more sensitive than the traditional piercing because of the distribution of nerve endings present. It is important to be extra careful when eating at first to avoid biting your jewelry. Barbells or rings can irritate teeth because they are so close. Speaking clearly is possible, but it takes a bit more effort to get accustomed to talking than a traditional piercing. A barbell is best to start with and can later be switched to a ring if desired.
3. Viper Tongue Piercings
Piercings placed off to either side of the midline of the tongue. This variation also goes by the terms snakebites, venoms, or viper bites (lip piercings go by these names too). Safe when properly and carefully placed by a professional piercer. May take longer to heal and get accustomed to than the previous two.
What type of tongue piercing jewelry should I get?
There are two types of tongue piercing jewelry: barbells and rings.
Your initial piercing jewelry should be long enough to accommodate for swelling so it may be a bit long and a little awkward till healing is complete and it can be switched to a shorter length. A straight barbell around 14 and 12 gauge are common to start with.
If you are concerned about oral health and have a tendency to play with your jewelry, acrylic is recommended due to it being a softer material.
A ring can be tried after healing if wanted.
How do you prepare for a tongue piercing?
- First, speak with your professional piercer about your tongue anatomy to see what is actually possible, especially if you're aiming to do multiple tongue piercings which may not be possible for everyone.
- Make sure to go over what jewelry style and size gauge would be best to start off with so that you have the jewelry ready in advance. If you have a specific style in mind, a ring for example, be vocal to let your piercer know your goals so they can help you achieve them.
- Your piercer should inform you that once your piercing is healed it is of the utmost importance to replace your jewelry with the shortest post to fit the piercing better so there is less chance for the jewelry to affect your oral health by knocking on your teeth and gums.
- For the piercing process itself, if you cannot stick your tongue out, piercing it will be extremely difficult or impossible to do. If your gag reflex makes it hard for you to keep your tongue out with your mouth open during the procedure, try keeping your lips closed only if you can manage to stick your tongue out far enough for the piercer to do their job.
Why you shouldn't get a tongue piercing?
Professional Piercer Elayne Angel
states, "If you have a history of bad teeth or gum problems, a tongue or lip piercing may be inadvisable...Contrary to what many people think, infection is not the most common risk from oral piercings. The human mouth is not prone to infection because the lymphatic system, mucus membranes, and saliva provide formidable defenses. The biggest danger is damage to teeth, gums, and oral structures from jewelry...The likelihood of such complications is dramatically reduced when you adhere to accepted practices, wear properly sized jewelry that does not rub inside your mouth, and avoid playing with it
How much does it hurt?
A lot of folks have a bit of trauma from the time they accidentally bit their tongue too hard, and its enough for them to back away from getting their tongues pierced for fear of greater pain. Angel
states, "a traditional tongue piercing is placed where the nerves primarily get signals for taste and temperature. It is more painful to get pierced at the tip or edges of the tongue than in the center."
If you find an experienced professional piercer the procedure should be faster than you'd expect.
Some piercees rate the pain as fairly low and others as high, so it is unique to each person. Some state that the healing process may be more painful than the actual procedure.
Sipping cold water from a clean cup right after the piercing is done may aid in soothing and swelling.
How long does it take for your tongue piercing to heal?
Average healing time is 4 to 8 weeks.
Tongue Piercing Aftercare
Your piercer should provide you with aftercare instructions and recommendations. For the first week light bleeding, significant swelling, and tenderness are normal. Swelling should go down after the first week but could last several.
Some things you can do during the first few days of healing to minimize pain and swelling:
REST- Do your best to not speak or play with your new adornment.
ICE- Suck on ice chips or small cubes as large ones can be uncomfortable. Make sure they are made with clean water. Try making small cubes out of frozen chamomile tea for an extra soothing experience.
ELEVATE- Keep your head elevated with a few extra pillows when sleeping or resting. The key is to keep your head above your heart to minimize swelling.
NSAID's- Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help, make sure to follow the instructions.
RINSE- Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial or antimicrobial mouthwash (that does not contain alcohol) for thirty to sixty seconds after every meal and before bed. Up to five times a day. A Saline Rinse can be used instead.
NEW TOOTHBRUSH- It is smart to get a new clean toothbrush and keep it stored in a clean area.
How can I make my tongue piercing heal faster?
- Eat slowly with small bites
- Cold and frozen foods may soothe and reduce swelling
- Help your tongue work less by placing small bites of food towards the back of your mouth between your molars.
- Fasting and liquid diets are not a requirement, although some people feel better eating soft or blended foods for the first few days of healing.
- Make sure your body is well nourished and hydrated by maintaining a healthy diet and sleep schedule.
What can you not do after getting your tongue pierced?
- Do not play with your tongue or jewelry!
- Do not eat chewing gum or suck on candy
- Try avoiding foods like mashed potatoes or oatmeal as they stick to the jewelry and your mouth even though they may be soft.
- Salty, spicy, acidic, or hot foods / beverages may be irritating to consume.
- Prohibit from drinking and smoking
- Try not to talk as much to let your tongue rest and heal
- Avoid other's bodily fluids including saliva. A piercing is an open wound that needs to stay as sterile as possible.
- Don't freak out if you see a whiteish discharge around your fresh piercing. Because your mouth is wet the "wound" is not able to crust and heal like exterior piercings, so you will most likely see.
How can I hide my tongue piercing?
By placing the piercing toward the middle or back of your tongue, it makes it easier to conceal. If you're worried about showing off your new addition to your boss, clear or black acrylic studs blend it in enough to miss.
That concludes our article. If you have any anecdotes to share, please leave us a comment! We will add it to this post.
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