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The Tongue Piercing: Everything You Need to Know

The tongue is one of those body parts that we tend to take for granted, but many of life’s pleasures come from its presence. It helps us taste fantastic cuisine and speak beautiful words. What better way to draw attention to and celebrate it than with a tongue piercing?

Tongue piercings come in two main types: the midline tongue piercing, located in the center of the tongue, and the side tongue piercing, located either to the right or left of center. The midline tongue piercing is by far the most popular, but depending on the location of the veins in the tongue, some people are unable to get their tongue pierced directly in the middle.

Tongue piercing
Tongue Piercing


Because of the piercing’s location in the mouth, certain stigmas surrounding the tongue piercing, and the tongue’s amazingly fast healing times, there’s much to consider before undergoing this procedure. Here’s all you need to know.

Woman with tongue pierced
Woman with tongue pierced

How much does the tongue piercing hurt?

The tongue may seem like it would be sensitive, but most report relatively low piercing pain. With an experienced piercer, you will feel a pinch, but they’ll conduct the procedure quickly, so it will be fast.

The real pain comes in the days immediately afterward. Your tongue is an essential aspect of your daily existence, so it’s nearly impossible to give it a day off. Since your healing tongue will move quite a bit, it will lead to more healing pain and swelling. The good news? Tongues heal crazy fast, so this portion of the healing process won’t last long.

Tongue piercing healing process

The tongue piercing usually heals in 4 – 6 weeks. The fast healing time makes it an easier piercing when it comes to aftercare, but it can also come at a cost; even old tongue piercings can close in a matter of hours without jewelry. Therefore, if you want to keep your piercing, you must keep your jewelry in.

Although the actual healing process is fairly simple, there are tons of outside influences that can make tongue piercing healing quite painful. Here’s what you need to know for aftercare during healing and beyond.

Aftercare rules

Your tongue is exposed to the bacteria that your saliva harbors, food, drinks, and anything else you put on or near your mouth. Beyond rinsing every day, you need to keep extra care to keep things out of your mouth that shouldn’t be there. (We’re looking at you, nail biters.) Here are some quick tongue piercing aftercare tips.

Conduct a sea salt mouth rinse 2 – 3 times daily.

The power of salt to heal is one of Mother Nature’s natural wonders. Simply mix one cup of warm water with ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized salt and swish it in your mouth for a couple of minutes. If you prefer saline piercing aftercare products, these are fine, too. Just make sure that the solution contains no more than sterile water and sodium chloride.

Eat soft food in the beginning of healing.

Your tongue will be quite sore, so you might not even be able to stomach anything that requires chewing. However, you should opt for soft foods, regardless. Before you get used to your jewelry, you’ll run the risk of chomping on it and breaking your teeth, especially since your starter jewelry will be larger to accommodate swelling. As you get used to the new piercing, start with soft foods while you relearn how to chew.

Keep a toothbrush and a sea salt mouthwash with you.

After every meal, you need to make sure that you cleanse the piercing of any lingering food debris. Bring along a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash so that you can quickly clean your mouth after your meals. Brushing your teeth in a public place can be awkward, so in later days of healing, a quick rinse will be fine. But, in the first days, it’s better to play it safe and fully clean your mouth after every meal.

No alcohol or cigarettes.

For any piercing, it’s best to stay away from these vices, since they can affect your body’s immune system. For tongue piercings, it’s imperative. The chemicals in both alcohol and cigarettes harm the healing piercing and encourage infection. Stay fully away for the entire healing process.

No oral sex or french kissing.

You must keep any foreign substance away from your tongue piercing during healing, and that means your partner. For the 4 – 6 weeks of healing, keep your lips closed during kissing or other activities, and rinse your mouth afterward to cleanse it of any lingering bacteria.

Woman with tongue, septum, and lip piercings

Tongue jewelry styles

By far, the most common jewelry you’ll see in a tongue piercing is a straight barbell. The tongue is usually pierced with a 14G needle, and your starter barbell will probably be a 7/8” barbell. Once your piercing has healed, most choose a 5/8” barbell, but it will depend on your personal preference.

You can also choose studs with a bead backing, as long as the prong is long enough to fit through your tongue. A charm set in the middle of your tongue looks adorable and helps your tongue piercing to stand out.

Why shouldn’t I get a tongue piercing?

The tongue is home to tons of veins. (Just lift your tongue to view some of them). If you have a vein where you want your tongue pierced, then your piercer will be unable to conduct the procedure.

If your tongue is too short or you can’t stick your tongue out very far, you won’t be able to get your tongue pierced. The piercer will let you know if you’re unsure.

If the webbing beneath the tongue is too long, your tongue won’t offer a proper place for piercing.

In any piercing around the mouth, the jewelry can cause damage to your teeth. If the jewelry rubs against your teeth, it could contribute to enamel wear, chipped teeth, and receding gum lines. If you have poor oral health or already struggle with some of these issues, then you should think about another piercing instead.

Unfortunately, there’s a stigma surrounding tongue piercings that says that one only gets their tongue pierced in order to perform sex acts. While this is untrue, many might assume that your tongue piercing is a sign of your promiscuity. If you’re concerned about what others might think or get some unwanted attention, then you should think hard about whether this is the piercing for you.

How much will it cost?

The tongue piercing will cost anywhere between $30 and $100. Often, this price won’t include the jewelry.

The tongue piercing is a delicate procedure that requires experience. Since the anatomy of the tongue dictates where the piercing will be placed or whether you can even get the piercing, you must choose a piercer who knows what they’re doing. Your piercer should be able to guide you in the right direction and know-how to avoid areas that they can damage.

Tongue piercing variations

You might think that every tongue piercing is the same, but as this piercing has gained popularity, people have gotten creative.

The horizontal/vertical tongue piercing takes place in the center of the tongue, but instead of going straight through the tongue, the needle will enter and exit through the top of the tongue, either horizontally or vertically. The two holes will be connected with a small straight barbell, which will create the look of a double piercing.

The snake eyes tongue piercing consists of entrance and exit holes at the very tip of the tongue. A straight barbell is pushed through these holes, and its beads on each end at the tip of the tongue takes on the appearance of a snakehead with two beady eyes.

The tongue frenulum piercing pierces the web of skin beneath the tongue. This alluring piercing can be more easily hidden than other tongue piercing types, making it a fantastic facial piercing for those who sometimes need to hide their alternative styles. However, some have said that this piercing makes speech difficult, so you might want to talk to your piercer before undergoing this procedure.

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