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Tongue Piercing FAQs

Photo of smiling mouth with tongue piercingIf you’re looking for tongue piercing information, you’ll find just about everything you could hope to ever learn about tongue piercings here in our Tongue Piercing FAQs. Whether you’re wondering about the cost of tongue piercings, where to get your tongue pierced, tongue piercing aftercare, tongue ring jewelry, stretching your tongue piercing, or even just why people get their tongues pierced, you’ll find the answers to those questions and other tongue piercing information in the sections below. Just click a tongue piercing question to jump right to its answer or read through for a full tongue piercing education.

Note: If you’re interested in learning about tongue piercing history, check out our History of Body Piercings article.

 

Most Common Tongue Piercing Questions

What are tongue piercings for?
What types of tongue piercings can I get?
Where can I get my tongue pierced?
How much does a tongue piercing cost?
Are there different tongue ring sizes?
Are tongue barbells different than tongue rings?
What is the usual tongue piercing healing time?
What does proper tongue piercing aftercare entail?
How do I know if I have an infected tongue piercing?
Can I get an infection from cheap tongue rings?
Where can I find a tongue ring that's right for me?
Where can I get a clear tongue ring or a tongue piercing retainer?
Can I get my tongue split if I have a tongue piercing?

How do I stretch my tongue piercing?
Additional Tongue Piercing Information

 

What are tongue piercings for? 

Tongue piercings are for personal enjoyment as well as sexual pleasure. Tongue piercings are popular because they’re easy to conceal, and they lend themselves to unlimited hours of fun. 

If you have an oral fixation and are always chewing gum or sucking on lollipops, you’re an ideal candidate for a tongue piercing. As long as you don’t crack your teeth on your tongue jewelry—which is easy to avoid if you wear acrylic balls instead of metal ones—a tongue ring is a much healthier alternative to all the sugar you’d otherwise consume. After having your tongue pierced, you’ll likely find yourself playing with it, rolling the top ball back and forth across your lips and twisting your tongue jewelry around in your mouth constantly. There’s plenty of innocent fun to be had with a tongue ring!

There’s also a sexual bonus that comes with tongue piercings. Many find that it’s fun to kiss someone who has their tongue pierced, plus they’re a great enhancement to oral sex for men and women alike. You should never try taking your tongue piercing for a test drive in the bedroom until it’s fully healed, though. There are too many germs that could get into the healing fistula (piercing hole) and give you a tongue piercing infection. (See the “How do I know if I have an infected tongue piercing?” Q&A below for more on that subject.)

Another thing tongue rings are good for is prepping for tongue splitting. It’s actually ideal to have a well-healed tongue piercing before you get your tongue split. Jump down to the “Can I get my tongue split if I have a tongue piercing?” Q&A below for more info.

 

What types of tongue piercings can I get?

You have several options when it comes to types of tongue piercings. You can get a traditional tongue piercing, a horizontal tongue piercing (a.k.a. snake eyes tongue piercing), a venom piercing (a.k.a. venom tongue piercing or venom bites piercing), a tongue web piercing (a.k.a. tongue frenulum piercing), a tongue tip piercing, or a combination of these tongue piercings. Here’s an explanation of what each tongue piercing type entails with illustrative tongue piercing pictures:
 

Photo of curled tongue with stainless steel barbell in piercingTraditional Tongue Piercing

Typically, tongue piercings are placed vertically through the center of the tongue. Your piercer will likely insert either a 12g or 14g piercing needle (unless you request a larger size) through the top-center of your tongue, but s/he may pierce through at a very slight angle, either to avoid the frenulum that divides the underside of your tongue or to ensure that the top and bottom balls are positioned in the roomiest parts of your mouth. Placement is important to prevent your jewelry from constantly rubbing against or pressing into one part of your mouth and subsequently irritating it.
 

 

Horizontal Tongue Piercing

A horizontal tongue piercing—also known as a snake eyes tongue piercing or just as a snake eyes piercing—is placed horizontally through the tip of the tongue, from left to right. Your tongue has to be thick enough to accommodate this placement. Even then, it can be risky. If a snake eyes tongue piercing migrates out, you could be left with a nasty scar or even risk losing the tip of your tongue. You also have to be more cautious of the impact on your teeth with a horizontal piercing than you do with a traditional tongue piercing. It’s best to ask for a PTFE barbell, since it’s hypoallergenic, but a metal barbell with acrylic balls is also a good alternative that will be safer for your teeth than metal balls.
 

Photo of venom piercing by piercer SelvaticarlaVenom Piercing

A venom tongue piercing is actually a pair of piercings. The placement is typically on either side of where a traditional tongue piercing would be placed, with one barbell put through the left-center of the tongue and another placed next to it on the right-center of the tongue. Sometimes venom piercings are placed slightly further forward on the tongue. It all depends on the type of jewelry the person being pierced wants to wear and what placement their mouth will accommodate comfortably. For instance, someone who wants to wear captive bead rings in their venom piercings would likely need the piercings placed further forward on the tongue, as shown to the right.
 

Tongue Web PiercingPhoto of niobium captive bead ring for tongue web piercings

A tongue web piercing is a piercing of the web, or frenulum, that connects the underside of the tongue to the lower palate. It’s a horizontal piercing that’s usually done with a circular barbell or captive bead ring, although occasionally a short straight barbell is used instead.
 

Tongue Tip Piercing

Usually when someone gets their tongue tip pierced, it’s after getting a traditional tongue piercing. This is just another vertical piercing through the center of the tongue, but it’s done closer to the tip of the tongue. You’re more likely to damage your teeth with tongue tip piercing jewelry, so it’s best to opt for softer jewelry like a PTFE barbell or a metal barbell with acrylic balls. Alternatively, sometimes a captive bead ring is worn in this type of tongue piercing.
 

Other Tongue Piercing Configurations

The piercings listed above can be done in nearly any combination, as long as there’s sufficient space on the tongue and in the mouth to accommodate the additional jewelry. A standard tongue piercing may be followed by venom tongue piercings and/or another standard tongue piercing that’s placed in front of or behind the original one. Another popular combination is a traditional tongue piercing with a tongue tip piercing, as shown here.

 

Where can I get my tongue pierced?

It’s best to go to a professional piercing shop, or a tattoo and piercing shop, to get your tongue pierced. This is not the kind of piercing you want to have done in someone’s basement, and you definitely shouldn’t try to do it by yourself at home. There are so many blood vessels and nerves in the tongue. You don’t want to risk damaging any of them, losing your sense of taste or bleeding excessively.

Check out our Choosing a Piercer and APP Tips for Choosing a Piercer articles for suggestions on how to find the best piercer in your area to do your tongue piercing.

 

How much does a tongue piercing cost? Photo of jeweled orbital tongue ring

If you're wondering if there's a standard tongue piercing price, the short answer is no. Tongue piercing prices vary by location. Piercers in the country can afford to charge less for tongue piercings than piercers in the city, because it typically costs more money to rent shop space in a city. Also, you’ll likely find that tongue piercings cost more or less depending on where in the country you live. Even though both are well-known cities, piercings may cost more in a place like Los Angeles, CA, than they would in somewhere like Orlando, FL. If you want special tongue jewelry or a pair of piercings, as with venom piercings, the cost of your piercing is likely to increase.

 

Are there different tongue ring sizes?

Traditional tongue piercings are typically done at 14g or 12g, but you can ask your piercer to use a larger gauge needle and jewelry if desired. Different tongues will accommodate different sizes better, but with patience and dedication, you may be able to stretch your tongue ring to size 0g or beyond.

 

Are tongue barbells different than tongue rings?

The term “tongue ring” is a misnomer. Straight barbells are the most common type of tongue piercing jewelry, so the correct term to use is “tongue barbell”. However, more people call tongue jewelry “tongue rings”, despite the fact that they’re rarely rings—except in the case of tongue tip piercings and some venom piercings placed further forward on the tongue, in which many people prefer to wear captive bead rings or circular barbells.

 

What is the usual tongue piercing healing time?

The mouth is one of the fastest-healing parts of the body, second only to the eyes, so you can expect most tongue piercings to heal within 4–6 weeks. If you have a setback like a tongue piercing infection, it may take longer for your tongue piercing to heal. As long as you practice proper tongue piercing aftercare and are careful about the foods you eat to minimize irritations, your tongue piercing should heal within the typical tongue piercing healing time of 4–6 weeks.

 

What does proper tongue piercing aftercare entail? One bottle of 6oz Saline Solution by Recovery

Aside from listening to instructions from your piercer, here are some of our recommendations for tongue piercing aftercare:

  • Rinsing your mouth 3–6 times per day with a sea salt solution like Recovery Saline Solution
  • Eating soft foods during the first week or so, when your tongue is most sensitive (e.g. applesauce, pudding, yogurt, mashed potatoes, mashed ripe bananas, Jell-O, ice cream, rice, oatmeal, etc.)
  • Not playing with your jewelry
  • Not touching your piercing unless your hands are freshly washed or gloved
  • Avoiding others’ bodily fluids
  • Avoiding aspirin and other blood thinners (Note: If you take blood thinners for a health condition, tell your piercer before they pierces you!)
  • Generally taking care of yourself (e.g. practicing good hygiene, getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of water, etc.)

For other tips on how to take care of a tongue piercing and more info on the tongue piercing healing process, check out these helpful links:

 

How do I know if I have an infected tongue piercing?

If you’re concerned that you may have a tongue piercing infection, you should see your piercer or go straight to your family doctor to see if you need an antibiotic. Often times, though, what someone thinks is an infected tongue piercing is really just a typical reaction to the tongue piercing process. Let’s walk through the process and what could go wrong:
 

Swelling

When your tongue is first pierced, your piercer will insert an extra-long barbell to account for swelling. Some swelling is perfectly normal, but if your tongue swells so much that the top and bottom balls are pressing into your tongue, see your piercer immediately to have a longer barbell inserted and avoid damaging the tissue. You may also want to ask for a titanium barbell, just in case the excessive swelling is due to an allergic reaction to the metal. Titanium is the most inert metal, and therefore the least likely to trigger an allergic reaction. A Bioflex barbell would be another good alternative, since PTFE material is also hypo-allergenic.
 

Replacement threaded end with synthetic opals for your tongue piercingInappropriately-Sized Top Ball

If the issue you’re experiencing isn’t that the barbell is pressing into both sides of your tongue, but rather that the top ball is “sinking” into your fistula, then you need a larger top ball instead of a longer barbell. You can replace your top ball with one of the pieces from our Dermal Parts Web store category, but you’ll need to know what size your current ball is, what gauge the post is, and if it’s internally-threaded or externally-threaded. That’s all good information to get from your piercer at the time you’re pierced.
 

Lymph

It’s normal for the body to discharge lymph from a piercing site. Lymph is a clear, sometimes whitish, fluid that would dry to a crust in an external piercing (a.k.a. “crusties”). In an oral piercing, lymph can sometimes be mistaken for infection. Unless the discharge is a thick, yellowy substance, it’s more likely that it’s just lymph and not pus.
 

Signs of InfectionOne bottle of 8oz Recovery Oral Rinse

If you see the consistency of the discharge from your piercing turn to a thick, yellowish pus, you’re running a temperature, and/or you see streaky red lines radiating out from the piercing site, then you may have a tongue piercing infection and should see your family doctor right away. It’s particularly important to deal with oral infections in a timely manner to prevent the infection from spreading to your brain and doing lasting damage. If your family doctor tells you to take your tongue jewelry out, don’t worry; it’s best to keep the hole open until the infection clears up, and by then, you should be able to keep your piercing as long as you practice religious tongue piercing aftercare. Always swish your mouth out after eating, as well as morning, noon and night.

To keep your tongue piercing clean, particularly a fresh tongue piercing, we recommend rinsing regularly with Mouth Rinse by Recovery. This all-natural solution has a refreshing peppermint taste.

For more information, check out our article, Worried You May Have an Infected Tongue Piercing?

 

Can I get an infection from cheap tongue rings?

There are two kinds of cheap tongue rings: there are inexpensive tongue rings and then there are cheaply-made tongue rings. Our tongue rings are the good kind of cheap tongue rings, meaning they’re very affordably priced, but good quality. The cheap tongue rings you need to watch out for are those that are made from low-grade metal that likely has a high nickel content (the metal that’s usually to blame for allergic reactions) and those that are coated with titanium, which is inferior to the solid titanium barbells that we carry.

Icon for sterilize my body jewelry optionYou’re more likely to have an allergic reaction to a cheaply-made tongue ring or have it break on you than you are to get an infection from a cheap tongue ring, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get an infection from your jewelry. If you purchase a good-quality tongue ring and have it sterilized before you insert it into your tongue piercing, you’ll significantly minimize your chances of infection. We offer a “Sterilize My Jewelry” option that’s a great add-on to any jewelry you buy from us. Just add 1 to cart for each piece of jewelry you purchase, and we’ll autoclave it for you and send it to you in sterile packaging, so you’ll know that it’s sterile until the moment you open the package and insert the jewelry in your tongue piercing. At a minimum, you should wash your hands well with anti-bacterial soap before handling your sterilized jewelry. Preferably, wear gloves when you insert your new tongue ring.

 

Where can I find a tongue ring that's right for me?

We offer a wide variety of tongue rings for your own unique style on our PainfulPleasures Web store. See below for some examples with quick-access links.

 

Tongue Ring Styles

Skull Tongue Rings – Shop for a variety of tongue rings with skull shaped tops and designs.Photo of jeweled blackout barbell for tongue piercings
Star Tongue Rings – Shop for classic star-designed tongue rings.
NFL Football Tongue Rings – Shop for football tongue rings featuring your favorite NFL team logos.
Major League Baseball Tongue Rings – Shop for a tongue ring featuring your favorite base ball team’s logo.
Picture Logo Tongue Rings – Shop for a variety of tongue rings with pictures, logos, and phrases. A few of our logo tongue rings are sold in bulk at marked down prices.
Heart Tongue Rings – Shop for tongue rings with heart-shaped designs; you can also browse for heart-shaped tops for your tongue piercing barbell.
Jeweled Tongue Rings – Shop for jeweled barbells and tops that you can wear in your tongue piercing for a hint of sparkle.
All Tongue Rings — Explore our entire tongue ring store category for all varieties available to you.

If you’re looking for PTFE barbells, you’ll find them in our BioFlex Barbells section. We also carry 14k gold tongue rings.

 

Where can I get a clear tongue ring or a tongue piercing retainer?Photo of pink tongue piercing retainer

Easily conceal and retain your tongue piercing with our 14g–8g Clear Acrylic Piercing Retainer or our 14g 5/8" Pink Acrylic Tongue Retainer. Acrylic body jewelry is safe and comfortable to wear in your tongue piercing.

 

Where can I buy fake tongue rings?

It’s not impossible to pull off a fake tongue piercing. There are fake tongue rings available that are basically just balls with a hollowed out area on one side that allows you to suction them to your tongue. You could also take a captive bead ring, remove the captive ball, and slide the gap over the tip of your tongue to make it look like you have a tongue tip piercing. It’s a lot more fun to get a real tongue ring, though!

 

Can I get my tongue split if I have a tongue piercing?

If you want to split your tongue, it’s actually ideal to have a pierced tongue first. A well-healed traditional tongue piercing will help prevent the back of the bifurcation from re-merging when your tongue is split. To learn more about tongue bifurcation and the role pierced tongues play in successful tongue splitting, check out our Tongue Splitting blog post.

 

How do I stretch my tongue piercing?One roll of stretching tape for safely expanding your tongue piercing

If you want to stretch your tongue piercing and are starting out with a standard 14g or 12g barbell, you may be able to insert the next size up with just a little gentle cajoling. You can also ask your piercer to help you change your jewelry when moving from one size to the next. They may use a taper, which you can purchase yourself to help insert jewelry that's a size up from what you're currently wearing. It can be a bit awkward to get a taper through a tongue piercing without using forceps to hold the tongue out, though, so it may be best to just get your piercer to assist you.

As you go up to larger sizes, it will become increasingly difficult to jump from one size to the next. You can make the stretching process easier by adding a layer of latex stretching tape around your barbell, inserting it, letting your tongue adjust to the difference for a week or two, taking out the barbell, adding another layer of tape, and repeating until you've stretched up to the next size and can just insert a new barbell in the new size.

If you know from the start that you'd rather have a larger size tongue piercing, you can ask your piercer to pierce you at a larger size. They should be able to accommodate you, although there's a chance you'll have to wait for starter jewelry in a larger size to be custom ordered.

 

Additional Tongue Piercing Information

Learn more about tongue piercing, jewelry for pierced tongues, tongue piercing aftercare, and tongue splitting on the following pages: