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Tongue Piercing Information - Risks, Aftercare, and How to Handle Infections and Pain

Updated on April 20, 2014
Get all the information before you get your tongue pierced.
Get all the information before you get your tongue pierced. | Source

What is Tongue Piercing?

Tongue piercing mostly involves getting one hole in the center of your tongue. It is one of the most popular piercing sites around the world and you will find many celebrities sporting attractive jewelry right on that spot.

While it may look appealing to you, it is important that you learn everything that you can about tongue piercing before actually going for it.

The Origins of Tongue Piercing

Believe it or not, tongue piercing has its own history. In the Aztec culture, tongue piercing was done to honor their Gods. Spirit Mediums from the Far East and the Muslim Fakirs and Sufis from the Middle East used tongue piercing as a ritual to prove their spiritual trance state.

It was also used by Australian Aborigine tribes as a means to get evil spirits out of the body of individuals who were suffering from illnesses.

In most of these cases, the purpose was religious or spiritual in nature and not ornamental. In the Mesoamerican cultures, such as the Aztecs and Mayas, rough cords were passed through the hole solely for the purpose of inflicting pain on the body.

In the 20th century, the Western Carnies introduced this tradition to the American and European people.

Since then tongue piercing has acquired a completely different meaning. It is rarely done for religious or spiritual purposes and the hole is mostly decorated with a piece of jewelry that attracts attention and looks quite fashionable.

There are different types of tongue piercings such as the angel bite.
There are different types of tongue piercings such as the angel bite. | Source

Different Types of Tongue Piercing

In most cases, a hole is pierced through the center of the tongue and a barbell-shaped piece of jewelry is inserted into it. Although many people use the term "tongue rings", the truth is that rings are rarely used for such an area.

The hole is made in such a way that the top is slightly behind than the bottom. This way when the jewelry is inserted into the hole, it leans slightly back and does not bother the teeth. In fact, the jewelry leans back towards the higher part of the palate, where there is more room available for it.

Some people like to get a tongue web piercing. Also called as the tongue frenulum piercing, it is done on the web below the tongue.

If you want to get two holes, placed side by side on the tongue, you will be getting a "venom bite" tongue piercing. Piercers often avoid doing these since these are quite painful.

Two holes right in the center of the tongue with one placed right in front of the other is referred to as an "angel bite" tongue piercing.

You may also want to get the "snake-eyes" tongue piercing, which involves a curved bar being horizontally inserted through the tip of the tongue. You will feel a pressure due to the insertion. However, it is generally quite painless.

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Should You or Should You Not?

The first question you need to ask is whether you are ready for a tongue piercing. Keep in mind that this is the tongue. It is located right in your mouth, which makes it quite vulnerable to infections.

Also, it is constantly moving. So, will you be comfortable having a piece of jewelry stuck in this area of your mouth? If you have considered these factors and still think that you would like to go for it because it looks great, then nothing should really stop you! However, do consider the risks and then make a decision.

Tongue Piercing Risks

If the procedure is done by a professional piercer, it should cause minimal pain and discomfort. However, you do need to take proper care of it to prevent swelling and infection. We will get to that in the coming sections. Right now, there are certain risks that you may want to keep in mind before getting the procedure done.

Studies have shown that tongue piercing can damage your teeth and cause gum recession and chipped teeth among other problems. You will need to be very careful in the initial months while eating.

Correct placement is of utmost importance. If it is correctly placed, these dental problems can be avoided or at least minimized.

If done improperly, it can cause nerve damage, make swallowing difficult, lead to tingling and numbness, and may even cause tongue paralysis. The chances are quite low and almost nil if you choose an experienced piercer.

There is a danger of the jewelry becoming loose and being swallowed. So, you will need to constantly check your jewelry to make sure that there is no danger of it getting dislodged. Keep in mind it is a small thing and if it does come off your tongue you may just end up swallowing it while eating.

Choosing your Piercer

Taking your time and doing your research in finding the right oral piercer cannot be emphasized enough. Make sure that you choose someone who is professional and experienced. Don't forget to ask questions to find out how much they know about their job and try to get references, if possible, and follow up on them.

Choosing the right piercer ensures that you minimize the chances of nerve damage, infections, wrongly placed barbells, and incorrectly done piercings.

Aftercare for your Tongue Piercing

Most people who have had this procedure report little or no pain. In fact, it is considered to be the least painful of all piercings. However, the tongue does take 3-4 weeks to heal. Swelling may last for around two weeks.

Ice or ice water can help reduce swelling.

Make sure to rinse the tongue twice a day with an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash. Rinse with saline water twice a day for faster healing and preventing infections. Just add quarter of a teaspoon sea salt in 8 oz. warm water and use the solution for your saline rinse.

Rinse your mouth after every meal for at least 30-60 seconds.

Avoid touching the pierced area as much as possible and if you have to touch it, wash your hands thoroughly.

Open mouth kissing or oral sex should be avoided for the entire healing period.

Avoid alcohol and smoking and drink plenty of water.

Avoid biting or clicking against the jewelry. It will help prevent dental damage.

Do not remove the jewelry before the area has completely healed. If you do have to remove it, get in touch with the piercer and ask him or her to do it instead.

What to Do in Case of an Infection or Pain

If you regularly rinse your mouth with saline water and antibacterial mouthwash, there are very limited chances of infection or pain. However, if you do notice an increase in the redness and inflammation, bleeding that does not stop, fluid oozing out of the site, or feel tenderness, pain, or heat radiating from the site, consult a doctor immediately.

The piercer may be able to give you some initial instructions to deal with the infection. However, make sure to consult your doctor to prevent any permanent damage to the area.

Are You Ready for Your Tongue Piercing?

So, now that you have got all the tongue piercing information you require, do you want to get it done despite the risks involved? If yes, nothing should stop you. Just choose your type of piercing, select a good piercer, and make sure to follow the necessary aftercare instructions. You will be perfectly fine.

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© 2013 Great Living

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    • profile image

      donnovan 2 years ago

      im getting my piercing this saturday the 28 march 2015

    • profile image

      Quinn 23 months ago

      I've been looking into getting a tounge piercing for a while now and have found these pages very helpful, I know a lot more about them and I'm prepared to commit. Just in case though, are there any other pieces of information or advice?

    • PirsingBevana profile image

      Bevana 19 months ago from Tauron

      Very nice exponation of tounge piercing.

    • profile image

      Audrey 6 months ago

      the piercing process doesn't hurt, afterwards hurts, like the day and week after hurt so bad

    • profile image

      Kayawflynn17 3 months ago

      I got my tongue pierced yesterday by a professional.. is it possible that the ball could fall out even though the professional done it?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 3 months ago

      Kayawflynn,

      The ball can fall off even if done by a professional. If you can screw it on yourself, just do it. Otherwise, just go to piercer and ask them to do it. I'm sure they will do it.

    • profile image

      Nomi 6 weeks ago

      I just got my tongue done its my 3rd day with it but I've noticed how flat it lays. The ball looks sunken but not sure if that's what it is or if my swelling is just that bad. He pierced it further back and when ivtalk you cant see it. But I dont wanna be the overly concerned girl where everything turns out is going well

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 6 weeks ago

      Nomi,

      Since it is only the 3rd day, it could be the swelling. But it is very difficult to say it without seeing it.

      Just take another look and see if there is swelling. If there is, just take steps to reduce the swelling and see if the situation improves.

      But if you think that there is no swelling or it has subsided a great deal, it is possible that too small a jewelry was used. If a 14 gauge about 5/8 inch was used, you are probably okay.

      But again, the piercer has to make a decision looking at the appropriate size for you. So, this could vary.

      Do share with us how it goes! It may help someone else!

    • profile image

      nomi 5 weeks ago

      turns out it did just swell super bad but day 7 i woke up it had gone down a lot it doesn't hurt or anything and it isn't sinking as far down either I'm on day 11 now

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