Illustrated Guide to Tongue Piercings

There are over half a dozen types of tongue piercings other than the standard center piercing
There are over half a dozen types of tongue piercings other than the standard center piercing

Despite the long-standing myth, that you might bleed to death if the piercer hits a certain vein, tongue piercing are very common and quite popular. (While there is a blood vessel in your tongue that can cause excess bleeding if punctured, it's unlikely to kill you). When we think of a tongue piercing, we probably conjure up an image of a single barbell inserted through the middle of the tongue, front and center. Aside from the standard tongue piercing, however, there are about half a dozen other types available.

Standard Tongue Piercing

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Double Center Tongue Piercings

A frequently seen variation of the single, center piercing is the same piercing in duplicate or triplicate. A "double center," sometimes called a second tongue piercing, is pretty common and features two barbells in the center of the tongue, one behind the other.

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Off-Center Piercings

For those who don't care about symmetry, there's the "off-center tongue" piercing. Sometimes called a "sublim" or a "venom" (pluralized into venoms or "snakebites" if there's one on each side), an off-center tongue piercing is more complicated than the standard on because the muscle tissue is thicker on the sides. Some people say that venoms hurt more, while others report feeling no difference.

Beforehand, the piercer must take into account the size of your mouth, how close your teeth crowd together and how far back the webbing under your tongue recedes to determine whether or not an off-center tongue piercing will fit comfortably in your mouth.

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Multiple Piercings

Then, of course, there's a combination of any of the above, such as a double off-center and a double center, resulting in four separate piercings that form a diamond shape in the middle of the tongue.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing

Not to be confused with venoms, a horizontal tongue piercing looks as though it is two separate barbells but in actuality it is just one barbell pierced horizontally through the tongue.

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Frenulum Piercings

A frenulum piercing is a hoop or barbell that is pierced through the small flap of webbing underneath the tongue that connects it to the mouth. Not everyone is a candidate for this type of piercing as the web may be too small or too thin to safely wear jewelry. Your piercer will let you know whether or not a frenulum piercing is for you.


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Gauged Tongue Piercings

A common modification in the piercing world is stretching or gauging. These piercings are done with a standard-sized needle: 20- or 18-gauge for ears, 14-gauge for tongue, etc. Due to skin elasticity, most piercings can be gradually stretched over time to eventually hold thicker jewelry at a lower gauge. Tongues are no exception. Gauging is done by gradually upgrading the size of the jewelry little by little, coaxing the hole to fit larger jewelry until you have achieved the desired size.

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Comments 49 comments

Raven King profile image

Raven King 8 years ago from Cabin Fever

Photos are very good. Does this affect the taste buds?

Klaskah 8 years ago

Not that I have noticed so far. Your tongue has the amazing ability to heal quickly... But everything tastes the same to me. It'd be cool if it would have given me super taste buds or something.

tinyteddy profile image

tinyteddy 8 years ago from INDIA


teeray profile image

teeray 8 years ago from Canada

seilive, this is an excellent hub, with great photos. Hopefully this hub wiill clear up a few misconceptions about piercings

kelzy profile image

kelzy 7 years ago

Heyya..!!! Has anyone here got a FRENULUM PIERCING..?? if so how much does it hurt..?? And how is it done..?? Cuz i want it done but i would like 2 know some stuff first... Thanx xxx

Alice-Dee 7 years ago

frenulum piercings have like no pain if its done right. i did mine myself and then half my class at school got me to do theirs. it hurt a wee bit the day after, but not much. id say go ahead and get it done! its hard to get the ball on the bar ive found though.

ChloeVilleneuve 7 years ago

I have a normal center piercing and a frenulum. I didn't think the frenulum hurt at all, and my friend did it for me after i realised my mouth was too small for my big hands XD.I got my tougne done by a profesional and i was the one with the less pain (i went with 2 other girls). After 1 month it was all healed up and im really considering a horizontal piercing right above the center one. My advice for all you guys: Get pierced! Its so much fun! Remember to have slushys handy after the piercing, and don't forget to bring a spoon to eat it with! You cant suck on anything for atleast 3 days after! haha if anybody has questions or anything.. im a pretty experienced self-piercer!

Jessica. 7 years ago

Im thinking of getting the off center peircings, but is it 2 separate bars or can you get one that's just one bar? and does it hurt?

chykys 7 years ago

!!!OMG!!! doesn't that hurt? just looking makes me scared

Sana 6 years ago

With all the dental numbing they put on, I didn't even notice he put the needle in, I just wondered what he's waiting for and.. it was done 0_o

megan 6 years ago

well I'm about to get a center piercing and I'm hoping that I have the same high pain tolerence my older sis had when she got hers done. she said hers was healed in like 3 or 4 weeks, but she's always been a fast healer, she also said she went and ate doritos right afterwards too, which I so won't be doing. If there's any additional advice on aftercare for this piercing go ahead and mail it to me at with the header "tongue advice ^_^ " thanks it's very much appreciated.

baybaybay3 6 years ago

Ellie 6 years ago

omg.. one of the girls with HORIZONTAL TONGUE PIERCINGS is bleeding a lot on her tongue...

Rebel19 6 years ago

I got my tongue webbing pierced a few days ago and i love it! I've got other piercings and this one hurt the least, I get like no pain from it :D

Does anyone know how long I should be using medicated mouthwash for after i eat, drink and smoke?


JASMiNE 6 years ago


mika35 6 years ago

u know they forgot venoms righ

dungeoneer 6 years ago

@Raccoon - just checked - yes lol.

abbygirl29 6 years ago

For the girl who got "dental numbing" why would you go to a piercer and get numbed? and 2 why would u let them numb you they arent quilafied to numb you? that's crazy! I got my tounge done not to long ago so I know but it didn't hurt until the next few days.

cassidy_hates_you 6 years ago

alot of piercings i get have gotten infected, but my smiley healed perfectly within a couple days(which i did myself). Would by tongue be more likely to heal like say my eyebrow(which got infected) or my smiley.? (which is the web of skin connecting your top lip to your gums)

Kylee marie 5 years ago

I did the frenulum piercing. It doesn't hurt at all until it is healin and then it just hurts a little bit to eat. But i did it myself i just stuck a saftey pin through it and left it in for three mins and then i took it out and quickly put a ring in the hole

Smo 5 years ago

I don't get the frenelum piercing . nobody sees it :P I'm too scared to take a tongue piercing anyway xD

littledannie profile image

littledannie 5 years ago

I think my tounge is too swollen how do I know and what should I do? Ive had the peircing for less than twenty four hours I'm worried.

Theoo 5 years ago

Just got a center piercing last night nothing to it. Hurts less than the tatts! My swelling is minimal, ice water is nice...

shan 5 years ago

littledannie it swells a bit don't worry that's why they put a long tounge bar in it swells down after a week xx

ariane 5 years ago


Teesh 5 years ago

Question: Thinking of getting my tongue pierced - really want to ! but my frenelum is quite close to the front of my mouth if you know what i mean , so would i still be able to get my tongue pierced (centre piercing)

Evie_333 5 years ago

I've had my tongue pierced for about 7 years & Did it my self when I was 14 ( which is not advised ) But it came out perfectly. Few suggestions I have are EAT before you get it done, you can eat afterwords, it will just be difficult and don't drink alchohol before getting it done just incase you do bleed, you don't want your blood to be excessively thin & more easy to come out. Ice water is your bff for the next few days, also. Lol Oh and don't use straws until it feels better.. the pressure hurts.. i found that out the hard way :/ Hope I can help anyone (:

Havoc_66sic 5 years ago

where can I buy tongue plugs? like the last pic??

Square 4 years ago

I had my tongue done 28 hrs ago, no pain at all thanks to the topical anaesthetic they sprayed. Minimal swelling (seems to swell overnight, going to try an extra pillow tonight to see if that helps). My only issue is that as I've a very short tongue I think they overcompensated a bit, seems a little far back on top. This has led to a couple of bouts of retching but I'm hoping that stops when I get my shorter bar.

Demper 4 years ago

Wait. What. Stretching your tongue? That's a no no for me. Yikes, how gross.

briee 4 years ago

I like did my own web piercing and it didn hurt abit. I had to pierce in 3 separate spots as I couldn't find the hole to put the jelwerry in. But apart from that i found no pain. You can talk fine. Eat fine. Do everything normal.. I love my piercing

jo' 4 years ago

i want the offcentre piercings, but do they do them one after another or would i have to wait?

and do they hurt a lot?

destiney 4 years ago

i got a regular peirceing n it looks a lil to the side then in the middl like push it a lil bit more to the side n itle be perfect idk should i go back n i got it dne just lasnight?

Sanara 4 years ago

I got the side of my tongue pierced, and its swollen waaaaaay more than when i had a standard tongue piercing, this is normal right?!

alyssa12389 4 years ago

hi. i want to get a center tongue piercing but my mom wont let me. anyone no a good way to get her to let me?

jeena 4 years ago

I have had my webbing for five years. Up until this year my dentist has always HAD to look at it, but always said it was fine. At my last chek-up he said I need to take it out bc one of the balls is rubbing away gum tissue. Is there any way to prevent this from happening without removing it?

Kali 4 years ago

When I got my tongue web pierced.... it hurt. It was done in a professional setting so I guess it depends on the person. Mine migrated out, so I had to take it out before it did any real damage. To prevent tooth or gum issues, i recommend medical grade plastic (Bioplast). It helps the piercing heal faster and will slow down any of that nonsense of tooth decay or w/e. This should be done before any damage has occurred. I really would like to get my tongue pierced but I'm afraid my mouth is too small. :/

Chanel 4 years ago

I want to get venoms but my parents won't let me till im 18 cuz they think they're going to mess up my teeth that they have put so much money into (braces). I got my industrial (ear) when I was 13 and I'm now 14. It disnt hurt very bad because im very pain tolerant. Will the tongue be more painful then industrial? Should I wait till in 18 or no? Do they mess up your teeth like people say they do?

Tara 4 years ago

@alyssa12389 you can always hide it. I got my tongue pierced wednesday and my parents still haven't noticed. Just be careful not to yawn or open your mouth too wide when talking and be careful of T's and S's because once your tongue swells up you will have a lisp.

Steven 4 years ago

Ive had my center done for years and in the army i hide it most the time. some don't care so i can let it fly lol. but a buddy of mine wants me to pierce his... i know go bottom to top and watch the viens on the side anything else i need to look out for???

etzu 4 years ago

thiiz pircing are so awesome

Adrieann 4 years ago

eww that looks like a white head on his chin lol

RosieRed 4 years ago

I have had the regular ol center tongue piercing off and on 4sum years I never knew of all these other options im thinking tht I love the horizonta tongue piercing frm wht it says its just a barbell going across rite? So this is pertty much a surface piercing on the tongue. Surface piercings have a high rejection rate frm wht I have read. I recently gt a kleevage piercing just last week &i believe it maybe rejecting already. Does any1 no if the rejecting rate on the horizontal tongue piercing is the same?

Paige 4 years ago

i think piercings are awesome in all, but sometimes people can go a little over the top, like all the Gages, that isn't attractive at all, i really don't see the point really.

uncomfortable pierce!! 4 years ago

i just got my tongue pierced and its really bugging my frenulum the ball is siiting rite on it to the side should i be concerned/is it gonna bother me as long as i have the pierce in?its really making me wanna take it out,should i just give it a few days?everytime i talk it feels like somethings holding my frenulum back and something is my pierce!

Danielle 3 years ago

Hey, I really want venom bites, but I'm wondering how much more do they swell than a single tongue piercing? Also, how much longer do they take to heal? Finally, I think my main worry is that I might bite the tongue rings a lot since they are closer to the side... Is that true?

Ilwaad 3 years ago

Ik heb ook een tongpiercing gehad ;D maar eruit ghlaaed een tijdje geleden. Heb ook een lippiercing gehad, ook eruit ghlaaed :P nu alleen nog een navelpiercing. Wil wel een tattoo binnekort! Awesome post :)!

Argo 3 years ago

You really saved my skin with this inifnmatoor. Thanks!

Lazzat 3 years ago

It depends on the woman-I know women who hate ttooats on guys or anyone, prefer them not visable, then there's women who love them, like animals, roses, cartoons, some wild pieces, etc. that are done by the pro's. (I'm guessing most women don't like guys that are covered/full sleeved/etc.) (anyways, never tattoo a lovers name on you, many have, later regreted it-broke up or got a divorce but your moms name is a good choice.-anyways, think about what you want for life.

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