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Getting a Tongue Piercing? Here’s What You Need to Know

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The tongue piercing is one of the most alluring types of piercings because it’s it hides in plain sight. Every time you talk, smile or laugh, your piercing will make an appearance, but at other times, you won’t even know it’s there.

No wonder it’s now the second most popular piercing amongst women especially in the age group 18 – 25. If you’re looking for a unique piercing to give you a bold and cool look, this could be just the one for you.

Here’s what you need to know about the tongue piercing.

What is the Tongue Piercing?

The tongue piercing has a long history in performance and religious practices of some cultures such as the Mesoamericans and the Aztecs, making it one of the oldest piercings around.

However, tongue piercings as a form of self-expression and jewelry emerged in the 1980’s. It was popularized in the 90’s by Jim Ward, founder of the first professional body piercing studio in the U.S.A.

So, what makes this piercing so different to others?

The tongue piercing, unlike other piercings is a perforation not of the skin but of a muscular organ inside the mouth. If you’re a beginner, the traditional piercing is the most suitable option but if you’re an experienced ‘piercee’ looking for something different, there are several variations you can opt for. Let’s have a look at the different types of tongue piercings out there!

Tongue Piercing Types

  1. Midline Tongue Piercing

midline tongue piercing

This is the traditional tongue piercing which involves a single vertical perforation right in the center of the tongue. It’s the simplest of all tongue piercings, making it the perfect choice for a first-timer. It’s quite painless as the tongue is pierced through the middle, where there are fewer nerves, and it’s more affordable than other piercings due to its simplicity.

  1. Tongue Web Piercing

This piercing is perfect since it’s located under the tongue and is an ideal hidden piercing. It’s a special piercing in which the perforation is done through the frenulum (the under-tongue webbing) located just between your tongue and the floor of your mouth. However, this is not a typical tongue piercing and doesn’t work for everyone as it requires a thicker frenulum to fix the jewelry through. If yours is fairly thin, you should probably avoid getting this.

  1. Snake Eyes Tongue Piercing

This rare and unusual piercing gets its name from its resemblance to the eyes of a snake. It’s located on the tip of the tongue and is formed by a single piece of jewelry going through the tip of the tongue horizontally. The downside of this piercing is that it can eventually migrate, leaving scars on your tongue so you might want to consider this risk before you go ahead.

  1. Venom Bites Piercing

Venom bites tongue piercing

This is a double tongue piercing placed side by side and located symmetrically on either side of the tongue, resembling venom bites or the eyes of a frog. Although this piercing can look scary, it’s also unique, stylish and guaranteed to make you stand out in the crowd. However, as it involves a double perforation, it would require a lot more care than a single perforation so that infections and unwanted complications can be avoided.

  1. Frowny Tongue Piercing

The Frowny piercing is similar to the tongue web piercing as it also goes through the frenulum under the tongue. The difference, however, is that it’s done between the lower gum and the lip. It’s easy to hide anytime you need to for work and formal occasions. However, like all frenulum piercings, this one too is prone to migration so if you’re looking for something more long term it may not be the best choice.  

  1. Surface Scoop Piercing

Surface scoop piercing

The Surface Scoop piercing is located on the surface of the tongue, making it one of the less painful piercings as it goes through less tongue tissue than the others. It can be done across the surface or lengthwise along the tongue but because it’s just on the surface, there is a high risk of jewelry rejection and migration. 

  1. Multiple/Double Tongue Piercing

Multiple tongue piercing

If you’re a piercing enthusiast, this could be the perfect piercing for you. A set of two or more separated perforations made up of multiple piercings is what this piercing is all about. You can play around with not only the variations but also the jewelry as multiple piercings will allow you to insert different types of jewelry. Having multiple tongue piercings requires a lot more attention and care. Our recommendation? Start with one and then work your way upwards.

How Is the Tongue Piercing Done?

Before starting the procedure, the piercer will examine the area to make sure that it’s suitable for piercing. They will check the underside of your tongue for any large blood vessels, sometimes using a bright light, and mark the spot for the piercing.

Once the position has been marked, the tongue will be clamped with a pair of forceps which hold it in place. Then the tongue will be pierced through with a standard sized 14-gauge needle which will be removed and replaced with the jewelry. Once the jewelry is properly fixed, you’re all done.

Best Jewelry Types for Tongue Piercing

The type of jewelry you choose for your tongue piercing depends on the type of piercing you get done. Titanium is the recommended metal as the risk of getting an allergy is low. You can also go for silver, gold or surgical steel as these are biocompatible and the safest metals for piercing jewelry.

The best type of jewelry for the tongue is the barbell – straight or curved, depending on the type of piercing.

Straight barbell

Straight barbell. Check price here.

Curved barbell

Curved barbell. Check price here.

This is the most common type of jewelry used in vertical tongue piercings. When you first get your piercing done, the jewelry will most likely be a long straight barbell which allows enough room for swelling. Once your piercing has healed, you can go for shorter jewelry.

Straight barbells are not suitable for horizontal piercings as the ends of the barbell can put too much tension on the tissue of the tongue, resulting in jewelry migration. Therefore, the best option for a horizontal piercing would be a curved barbell instead. 

While rings can work for the tongue, they cause more hassle and can easily snag on food and cutlery. They would work best for frenulum piercings. If you’re choosing a ring for your piercing, make sure that it’s not too big to the point where it could constantly rub on your teeth or gums which could result in injuries and other complications. In general, though, going with a barbell is the most convenient and comfortable option.

Tongue Piercing Pain and Aftercare

Not painful pain meter

The tongue piercing is one of the least painful piercings (usually ranked 3-4 on the pain scale) but the level of pain actually depends on the person. Pain is subjective and everyone’s pain threshold is different.

However, it would be safe to say that yes, you will probably feel a little sting but it won’t be a lot more than that. Many people claim that it hurt a lot less than they expected so try not to worry too much. It’s actually during the healing phase that you will feel more pain.

Luckily, tongues heal amazingly fast but following the golden rules of aftercare will help it heal even faster. With proper care, healing will take about 1-4 weeks. Here are some aftercare tips to help speed up the process and avoid complications.

  1. Rinse your mouth out after every meal – do this using an alcohol-free antibacterial or antimicrobial mouth rinse for about one minute after every meal.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your piercing – this is vital to minimize bacteria and the risk of getting an infection.
  3. Replace your toothbrush regularly – don’t use the same toothbrush for extended periods of time after you get your piercing done since it can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  4. Clean the piercing twice a day – rinse twice a day with saline to help the piercingheal faster and to further reduce the chance of getting an infection.
  5. Avoid spicy foods and hot drinks – it will be difficult to eat certain food or drink hot beverages for a few days after you get your piercing done. Avoid these for the first few days as they can irritate your piercing and interfere with the healing process.
  6. Avoid playing with the jewelry – try to minimize movement and leave your piercing alone as much as movement. Don’t keep touching your jewelry or moving it around with your tongue as movement will interfere with the healing.
  7. Make sure the ends of your jewelry are tightly fitted on – the last thing you’d want is for your jewelry to get loose and end up in your stomach. Tighten the ends so there won’t be any chance of you choking on your jewelry.

With proper aftercare your piercing should heal in no time at all. Keep an eye open for signs of infection and if you experience any redness, pus oozing from the piercing, fever, pain or tenderness, get medical help immediately.

Pros and Cons of Tongue Piercing

If you’re having trouble figuring out whether this is the right piercing for you, weighing the pros and cons might help you to decide.

Pros

  1. Tongue piercings heal faster than most other piercings.
  2. They are easy to hide – no one will notice it unless you show it off.
  3. It looks stylish yet subtle.
  4. There are many variations of the piercing to choose from.

Cons

  1. There is a high risk for jewelry rejection and migration.
  2. There is a risk of swallowing the jewelry if it gets loose.
  3. The mouth is home to hundreds of different types of bacteria so there is a higher risk of infection.
  4. It can pose serious health risks.

Tongue Piercing Meaning

While some believe that having a tongue piercing makes for an enhanced sexual experience, in reality, tongue piercings doesn’t add much to oral pleasure for both the wearer and the receiver. This misconception is also why sometimes there’s a stigma surrounding the tongue piercing.

Because the tongue piercing began as a religious practice, it’s historical connection for many tribes and people was connected to the spiritual and the holy. For the Aztecs and Mayan’s, tongue piercings had a more gruesome meaning. They were done as a blood sacrifice to the Gods.

Today, tongue piercings are mainly seen as a form of self-expression, closely associated with the reputation of being risky and courageous so if you really want one, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get it.

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