They're associated with 90's rock and club-culture and often considered one of the 'sexier' piercings: tongue piercings are like any other piercing, the only difference is that they are placed in your mouth.
Whether you’re speaking, swallowing or chewing, you’re always using your tongue. It is used continuously so you want it to be as comfortable as possible.
Different types of tongue piercings
There are different tongue piercings you can have, both in terms of where the piercing is located and what kind of jewelry is used.
If you go to your piercer asking for a tongue piercing, he’ll probably ask you to be more specific as that's not enough information to go on. You’ll need to be more specific about what kind of tongue piercing you want, and there are lots to choose from.
You’ll want to know which is which and if you’re confused you can always ask your piercer to show you pictures of each type.
Midline Tongue Piercing
This is a popular piercing in which one piercing is put right in the midline of the tongue. It is just like the side tongue piercing, except it’s in the center of the tongue, not off to one side.
Side Tongue Piercing
This is when your piercing is placed toward the middle of your tongue, but it’s not in the center. As the name tells you, it’s off to one side or the other. Whether you want it on the left or right side is up to you.
If you tend to chew your food mostly on one side of your mouth, you may want to have this piercing placed on the opposite side. It might make eating easier for you.
Snake Eyes Piercing
This piercing scores points for its cool name. Still, that name isn’t only used to describe this piercing because it sounds cool, it also perfectly sums up how this piercing looks.
The snake eyes piercing really does look like snake eyes when you show your tongue to people. Though it looks like two separate piercings where the snake eyes are located on the tip of your tongue, those two studs are actually linked together by a horizontalbar that runs inside your tongue.
While it may appear to be two pieces of jewelry, it’s really just one.
The downside to this particular piercing is that it can be very damaging to the enamel of your teeth, so don't be surprised when your piercer refuses to perform this piercing.
Horizontal Or Vertical Tongue Piercing
These piercings go in the middle of your tongue. They can go either vertical or horizontal, depending upon your preference. Like the snake eyes piercing, this one uses a barbell that goes inside your tongue and links the two studs together. The only difference is that the snake eyes piercing is at the front of your tongue and this one is in the middle part.
Some piercers don’t perform this tongue piercing because it does carry a fair amount of risk. As there are nerves that run throughout your tongue, you take the chance of damaging them if you get this piercing.
Damaging the nerves in your tongue or hitting a big blood vessel is a complication of tongue piercings that you want to avoid at all costs.
Getting your tongue pierced
Before any piercer starts making holes in your tongue, they’re going to want to check it out first. In the case of tongue web piercings, they’ll look at your frenulum’s structure and make sure everything looks sturdy enough to proceed. If they decide you shouldn’t go ahead with it, ask them to explain why.
It can be a bummer to not be able to get the piercing you want, but there are plenty of other kinds of piercings you can get instead.
When is it safe to change the jewelry?
While the initial piece of jewelry used for your piercing may not be the one you want, it’s important to make sure it stays put over the next eight weeks.
Removing or replacing the jewelry too soon can increase your risk of tears and infections. The hole may also close up if you remove the jewelry too soon.
Once the time comes to remove the jewelry used for the piercing, it’s best to see your piercer. They can ensure a safe removal process and show you how to correctly remove your jewelry.
Piercings are usually done with a 16 -18mm by 1.6mm straight barbell. They should be made from either titanium or surgical steel, so you need to ensure you’re not allergic to either metal. You can choose any color, but ensure you are not pierced with a short bar or a ring. You can get a shorter bar once the swelling has reduced.
What happens after I got my piercing? Will I be able to eat at all?
You’ll want to watch what you eat and drink in the first week or two because of the pain or discomfort you’ll have.
Avoid hot drinks, alcohol (including alcoholic mouthwash) and paracetamol or aspirin which can increase swelling by thinning the blood. You’ll also have to be careful to prevent bacteria getting into the mouth which means no smoking, kissing, putting your hands in your mouth OR engage in oral sex. You should avoid this for as long as possible, many piercers will advise against oral sex for at least 4-6 weeks.
For a tongue piercing, your piercer will likely recommend a sea salt water rinse at least a couple times a day. All it takes is one cup of hot water and one-fourth of a teaspoon of sea salt stirred together and you have the only mouth cleanser you’ll need for your piercing.
Using this rinse once in the morning and once in the evening will be enough to keep your mouth clean and to help encourage healing.
Once your tongue piercing has healed, you’re not completely off the hook in terms of cleaning and hygiene. Rinsing with salt will no longer be necessary, but be sure to stay on top of your oral health to prevent any problems.
Most tongue piercing infections happen in the first month after you’ve had your piercing done, so it’s crucial in that first month to keep as much bacteria out of your mouth as you can.
That means keeping your fingers out of your mouth. If you are a constant nail-biter, this would be a good time to stop. That will cut down on some bacteria that can hide under your nails.
In addition to salt water rinses, you should also make sure to drink water frequently throughout the day. This can help keep your piercing and the area surrounding it clean.
The signs of a tongue infection are pretty easy to spot, even if you don’t frequently look at the piercing. An infection can be signaled by a few different symptoms, including redness around the piercing area, swelling, discoloration, weird-looking discharge,and pain.
Here are some of the reasons you might want to reconsider a tongue piercing. There’s no guarantee all of these, or even any of these, worst-case scenarios will happen to you.
There isn’t a lot of extra space in your mouth. Everything that’s in there serves a purpose and it is engineered to all work together. When you put a piercing in there, it throws things off. Your jewelry starts to rub and scrape at everything that’s already in there.
When your piercing constantly rubs up against your gums, your teeth and gums may become extra sensitive.
That’s because gums help anchor and protect your teeth and piercings can cause them to recede.
Using smaller jewelry can help you lessen the chances of experiencing this complication.
That cool-looking jewelry can be hard on your teeth. As it strikes your teeth during eating and talking, it can chip or crack your teeth.
If you use bigger jewelry, you have a bigger risk. To minimize your chances of ending up with broken teeth, opt for small-size jewelry.
This side effect of piercings can happen with any location of piercing you have, whether it’s your navel, ear or tongue. If you end up with an infection in your earlobe, it will prove to be a minor inconvenience, but it’s usually one that can be easily treated.You might be able to take care of it at home without even visiting a doctor’s office.
If your tongue gets infected though, you should skip the idea of attempting home care. You’ll need to visit a doctor to make sure it’s treated. Your tongue contains big blood vessels that may quickly spread the infection throughout your body. Obviously, a wide-spread infection can be bad news for your overall health.
Those large blood vessels in your tongue could mean you might lose a fair amount of blood if your piercer nicks one of those, and if someone pierces right through that blood vessel, you might even need surgery to close that wound up.
To better protect yourself against blood loss, you should only let a qualified piercer handle your tongue piercing.
Swallowing Your Jewelry
This complication can be really bad and it’s one that is often most feared.
If your jewelry accidentally becomes dislodged and you swallow it. While there’s a chance it will go through your digestive system without causing problems, it can also get stuck or cause internal bleeding. That can mean major medical problems for you.
As many of the jewelry pieces have screw on ends, you should be able to feel when they’re getting loose. That will help you avoid swallowing them.
How long do tongue piercings take to heal?
You won’t have to wait very long before you can swap out your tongue piercing jewelry. That’s because tongue piercings heal pretty quickly compared to other piercings. It will only take one to two months for your tongue piercing to fully heal, depending on which one you have done.
A tongue web piercing is one of the fastest to heal. Having your tongue pierced in a thicker location will result in a longer healing time.
No matter which location you have it pierced in, you shouldn’t swap out your jewelry until it’s healed. You don’t want to risk having the hole close up after you’ve already endured the pain of the piercing and the aftermath. Practice a little more patience and you’ll be happy with the end result.
To conclude, tongue piercings may seem a little scary to some but with proper aftercare and a little patience you'll be ready to sport a new stud and naughty smile in no time!