Tongue piercing

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Tongue piercing
Tongue ring.jpg
Location Tongue
Jewelry Straight barbell
Healing time 4 to 6 weeks

This article is about Piercings

A tongue piercing, a body piercing through the tongue, usually directly through its center, is one of most popular piercing sites in the western world, excluding the ear.


The swelling will occur 3-7 days afterwards and can be extremely uncomfortable. Cold, slushie-style drinks and chewing on ice will help to mitigate the swelling and soreness, as will ibuprofen. This swelling must be accounted for by using a longer piece of initial jewelry, which is later replaced by a shorter piece of jewelry to prevent the healed piercing from damaging the teeth and gums.

A tongue piercing usually takes 4-6 weeks to fully heal. Aftercare for tongue piercings is more complicated than most other piercings, as the healing piercing will come into contact with anything that enters the mouth, including food and smoke. For these reasons, many certified piercers suggest as after care guidelines, not to smoke, and to rinse the mouth thoroughly with antiseptic mouthwash.

The piercer should recommend either a non-alcoholic mouthwash or diluting a regular mouthwash, as the alcohol will irritate the piercing and slow healing. It is especially important not to play with the piercing during the healing period, because that will severely inhibit the proper healing of the hole.

Because of the tongue's exceptional healing ability, piercings can close very fast. Even completely healed holes can close up in a matter of minutes, and larger-gauged holes can close in just a few days. The length of time for the hole to heal varies greatly from person to person - some people with larger-gauged holes (greater than 2ga) can still fit jewelry (albeit smaller) in their piercing after months or even years.


Tongue piercings are most often pierced with straight barbell style jewelry. Due to the amount of action and movement that the tongue is involved with (speech, eating, kissing, etc.), jewelry size and comfort is especially important. Barbells that are too thin are prone to migration, causing discomfort and irritation. Tongue piercings can often be easily stretched to accommodate larger jewelry. The beads at the end of the barbell can be made of many decorative materials, including plastic, but the environment of the mouth can cause cracking and discoloration in the jewelry over time. "No-see-um beads", flat beads matching the color of the tongue, are sometimes worn to conceal this piercing, often in places of employment.

An uncommon version of this piercing will be close to the tip of the tongue, and a captive bead ring may be worn in it. This placement and jewellery choice is uncommon because it is much more likely to cause discomfort and damage the teeth and gums.

Another uncommon version of this piercing is the tongue piercings referred to as Venoms. This piercing is two tongue piercings placed side by side.


There is a risk of heavy bleeding if a vein is hit. Some bleeding is normal, but a medical professional should be contacted if it cannot be controlled.

The piercing has a tendency to heal a bit crooked as a result of the Frenulum linguae's placement in the exact center of the tongue. This is usually undetectable by anyone except the piercing's owner, but in some cases it can be quite pronounced.

A common misconception is that since the mouth is dirty (staphylococcus and streptococcus), tongue and oral piercings are more prone to infection and will take longer than other piercings to heal. While it is true that the human mouth, and foods can contain numerous bacteria, saliva is highly effective at both protecting from infection and promoting healing.

For this reason, oral piercings tend to actually heal faster (4-6 weeks) than many other piercings, which can take many months depending on location, as long as appropriate care to prevent infection is taken. Mouthwash is frequently used to diminish chances of infection. However, intra-oral ornament should be cleansed regularily to prevent the accumulation of bacterial plaque and calculus.

The commonest two long-term complications of intra-oral ornament are (1) dental fracture and wear, affecting 14% to 41% of subjects with intra-oral ornaments and (2) recession of gingival tissue affecting 19% to 68% of subjects with intra-oral ornaments. In some cases, the alveolar tooth-bearing bone is also involved, jeopardizing the stability and durability of the teeth in place and required a periodontal regeneration surgery.

12 Health Risks reported by the ADA

1. Severe bleeding or nerve damage: if the needle punctures a blood vessel during the piercing, severe and difficult-to-control bleeding could occur. 2. Infection: the mouth contains millions of bacteria, and bacterial infection is a common complication from tongue piercing. 3. Pain: healing time prolonged. 4. Swelling: the tongue could swell large enough to close off the airway. 5. Disease transmission: The National Institutes of Health ( has identified piercing in general as a possible vector for blood borne hepatitis (hepatitis B, C, D and G) transmission. In addition, there is risk of other disease transmission such as HIV. 6. Choking hazard: tongue jewelry could come loose in the mouth creating a choking hazard. 7. Chipped or cracked teeth: tongue jewelry can chip or crack the teeth. 8. Enamel loss: tongue jewelry can increase the risk of damage to teeth enamel. 9. Recessed gums: The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) has reported that tongue piercing increases the risk for recessed gums. 10. Tooth loss: The JADA has reported that tongue piercing increases the risk for loose teeth and tooth loss. 11. Scar tissue formation: thick scarring could form at the piercing site. 12. Speech Interference: tongue jewelry can interfere with speech.

History and culture

There is a history of ritual tongue piercing in both Aztec and Maya cultures, with illustrations of priests piercing their tongue and then either drawing blood from it or passing rough cords, designed to inflict pain, through the hole. There is no evidence of permanent or long term tongue piercing in Aztec culture, however, despite the practice of many other permanent body modifications.

Piercing the tongue has a long history in religious and performance practices. Mesoamericans such as the Aztecs practiced this as well as other perforations as a part of offerings to their deities.

Islamic Fakirs and Sufis from the Middle East, and Asian Spirit Mediums of the Far East practiced tongue piercing as an offering and proof of trance state.

The reason for the central Aboriginal Australian holy man's practice of piercing the tongue remains unknown. From the turn of the 20th century, Western Carnies borrowed many of their sideshow tricks from fakirs bringing to American and European audiences their first glimpses of tongue piercing.

Permanent or long term piercing of the tongue is part of the resurgence of body piercing in contemporary society. The ready availability of high quality, surgical steel barbell style jewellery is associated with the emergence of this piercing in the 1980s. As with many piercing innovations, the origin of this piercing is associated with The Gauntlet, the first professional body piercing studio in the United States, formerly located in Los Angeles, California. Elayne Angel, the first person awarded the Master Piercer's certificate by Jim Ward, body piercing pioneer and founder of Gauntlet, is commonly associated with the promotion and popularity of this piercing. Also note that the tongue ring is not gender specific, it was not created specifically for just a man or just a woman. Popular names for tongue piercing include tongue ring, a misnomer, as only rarely are rings worn in tongue piercings.

Tongue piercings are sometimes considered useful for oral sex, but that's certainly not the only reason people do it.

People with tongue piercings also say it's especially good when kissing. Many like playing with their partner’s piercing jewelry when kissing and say it drives them crazy - in a good way.

While a number of people get it to supposedly improve their "oral abilities", it's also often said to be an awkward piece of jewelry that more often just gets in the way. It has been said to act as weight training for the tongue!

An often cited reason many young people give for getting their tongues pierced - is to rebel against parents.

Here are some Top Reasons many give for having their tongues pierced:

  • Their friends think it's Cool.
  • Their Parents will hate it.
  • Everyone they know is doing it.
  • They believe it will improve their oral "skills"
  • They want to 'shock' people and draw attention.

Medically speaking: Here are the 6 good Reasons Not To have your tongue pierced (see also 'risks' above this section):

  • You may wind up with broken teeth!
  • The majority of dental patients with pierced tongues wind up with chips, cracks or fractures in their front teeth.
  • You may wind up needing Surgery
  • Need for surgical correction of damage caused by rubbing tongue barbells.
  • You can swallow it!
  • The barbells can come un-screwed and wind up in a lung.
  • The ball end should pass through harmlessly if swallowed. However the long part would carry the risk of lodging or causing internal tears in the intestine.
  • Infection or worse!

The mouth is moist and full of bacteria, and the tongue has major blood vessels ideal for spreading infection to the brain and elsewhere. This can disfigure or worse. There have been brain abscesses following tongue piercing.

  • Bleeding.
  • The tongue contains large blood vessels, and there can be trouble if one of them is perforated.

--D. Paul M.D - with a pierced tongue.

Tongue frenulum piercing

The tongue frenulum piercing is a piercing through the frenulum underneath the tongue, known as the frenulum linguae, and commonly the tongue web piercing.Tongue Splitting and piercing:

External links

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