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The Tongue

Pierced Tongue
Everyone has one! The tongue is a very important organ located in the mouth.

While it's typically referred to as a "muscle," it's actually a series of two muscles with independent blood supplies that work together (which is why bifurcated aka split tongues can move independently). 

There are several different ways to pierce your tongue... But are they all safe? What's the best way to get your tongue pierced? 

What Does The Tongue Do?

Tongue Jewelry

Taste. Lick. Slurp. Eat. Drink. Speak. Lots of things. It's actually kind of amazing how dexterous and flexible your tongue is. Obviously, your tongue is important for eating and enjoying your food, but an often overlooked function is enunciation. 

Your tongue works in conjunction with the rest of your mouth to pronounce words and make sounds. The way the tongue interacts with your lips, teeth, and throat is integral to the way humans communicate (in fact, human tongues are unique from other mammals tongues in their exceptional dexterity. The teeth The teeth, lips, and tongue and voice box work in unison to form speech. Think about all the different ways you twist and turn your tongue to make different noises. The act of pronouncing an "s" is incredibly different from pronouncing a "k" or even "uh-oh." 

Needless to say, when you are considering piercing your tongue, its important to keep in mind the many different ways you use your tongue muscles on a daily basis.

Tongue Anatomy

Tongue Jewelry
Take a second and flip up your tongue so you can see the underside. You'll notice a few prominent, blue veins on either side of the tongue. These veins feed both sides of the tongue, further proof of its dual-muscle structure.

If you flip your tongue back down, you might notice a subtle line running down the middle of the organ. A "typical" tongue piercing is done in the center of the tongue, for good reason. There are few (if any) nerve endings in this part of the tongue, comprised mostly of connective tissue. A correctly-placed vertical tongue piercing will avoid all of these integral structures and still leave you able to move your tongue in all the important ways.

Piercing, Swelling, & Healing 

Tongue Pierced

It might seem like a painful experience, but surprisingly, tongue piercings are generally concerned pretty tolerable. What's more, most tongue piercings heal in six (6) to eight (8) weeks (as opposed to a full year with cartilage or nipple piercings). Of course, everyone's piercing experience is different, but here are a few things to expect:

1.) Swelling - whether it's a lip piercing, a medusa piercing, or a tongue piercing, your new oral piercing is bound to swell up a bit. Think about a time you got hit in the mouth during a sports game - a "fat lip..." or "fat tongue" in this case... is to be expected.

2.) Oversized Jewelry - You're swelling, sure - one of the worst things you can do for a new piercing is wear jewelry that is too small for your expanding mod. A large tongue ring will give your tongue room to swell for the amount of time it needs. Just be sure to head back to the piercer to get re-sized (typically around the one month mark), as oversized jewelry can lead to gum damage, tooth erosion, and other complications. 

3.) A Few Months of Healing - your tongue is very vascular. The excess blood flow to this area means a pleasantly short healing time compared to other piercings. Plan for about six (6) to eight (8) weeks of solid heal time.

4.) Potential Teeth/Gum Damage - Be very careful with your tongue/oral piercing, especially when eating or chewing. A tongue ring, whether it is bit down upon or clacking against your teeth, has the potential to damage your enamel or gums. Ask your piercer for more info if this is something you're concerned about!

Other Tongue Piercings:

Triple Tongue Piercing

Most individuals are familiar with the traditional (vertical tongue piercing), but there are several other variants.

Through the muscle - it is certainly possible to pierce through the muscle of your tongue (as opposed to through the center). To get this piercing, your piercer will have to avoid the veins on the bottom of your tongue. Expect a lot more swelling and a rougher recovery, as this piercing is slightly more traumatic to your tongue.

Frenulums - done through the webs in your upper or lower lips, or beneath your tongue, smileys, frownys, and tongue web piercings are tongue-adjacent, but don't actually go through the tongue.

Snake Eyes - this piercing goes horizontally through the tip of the tongue. While this might be aesthetically pleasant, snake eyes piercings actually pin the two muscles of the tongue together, resulting in restricted movement. Proceed at your own risk! 

Scoop - the scoop is a surface piercing done horizontally through the tongue. This piercing is prone to migration and, like the snake eye, can also pin the tongue's anatomy together. Another piercing to proceed with only if you've considered all the risks.

No matter what, a tongue piercing is a unique commitment - be sure to ask your professional piercer lots of questions so you are fully informed when it comes to this classic oral piercing.

We want to hear about your tongue piercing experience!

Anodized Tongue Ring

Do you have a tongue piercing? What was your experience like in the piercing shop? What was your healing process like. Tell us all about it in the comments below!

For more info about Oral and Tongue Piercing Aftercare - check out this blog.

Tongue Jewelry

  • S

    Had my (vertical) tongue piercing done in 1993 and still rocking it today!
    My experience was different than what you’ve referenced above. Whereas both of my nipples were slightly sore afterwards, the tongue was significantly more painful, and took about 2-1/2 months to heal versus around 6 weeks for nipples.

    Squid on

  • D

    My tongue was pierced years ago. I have not wore any jewelry for years. I can fit a regular size earring through the hole but not the tongue ring I recently purchased. Do you sell small gauged tongue rings?

    DIanna MIller on

  • R

    My tongue piercing started out poorly. I did not know it at first but the bar placed was to short, a 5/8 inch baar was used. This did not allow for swelling and the balls became imbedded in my tongue. After cutting the balls out and changing the bar things became less painful and healing took about 5 months. Now after 3 years it has become a part of me and feels strange when I have it out. I’ve not had any bad reactions from people. In fact no one has even commented on the piercing.

    Robert C Niedermayer on

  • R

    I miss my tongue piercing. I got it when I was 16 my mom took me because I asked for her permission and it took some convincing. I kept it in for about 7-8 years I took it off when I had my first born and tried to get it repierced when I was 27 but the person who repierced it didn’t do a good job and it didn’t heal well so I ended taking it out again. I want it again but I’m afraid it won’t heal good again and just end up wasting money.

    RIta FLores DE PElayo on

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