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An Illustrated Guide to Tongue Piercings

There are over half a dozen types of tongue piercings

There are over half a dozen types of tongue piercings

Tongue Piercing Placement

Despite the long-standing myth that you might bleed to death if the piercer hits a certain vein, tongue piercings are very common and quite popular. (While it's true that there is a blood vessel in your tongue that can cause bleeding if punctured, it's extremely 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. But in addition to the standard tongue piercing, there are about half a dozen other types available.

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.

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 one 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.

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.

Close-up of multiple tongue piercings

Close-up of multiple tongue piercings

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.

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.

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 the 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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Georgina Gregory on September 06, 2018:

Hi I have had my tongue done and it is still swollen and rised on the top of my tongue how long do it take to go down so I can have it out and put a small one in

Lazzat on July 25, 2013:

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.

Argo on July 23, 2013:

You really saved my skin with this inifnmatoor. Thanks!

Ilwaad on July 22, 2013:

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 :)!

Danielle on January 04, 2013:

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?

uncomfortable pierce!! on September 30, 2012:

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!

Paige on April 16, 2012:

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.

RosieRed on March 28, 2012:

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?

Adrieann on March 27, 2012:

eww that looks like a white head on his chin lol

etzu on March 23, 2012:

thiiz pircing are so awesome

Steven on March 04, 2012:

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???

Tara on March 03, 2012:

@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.

Chanel on March 03, 2012:

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?

Kali on March 01, 2012:

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. :/

jeena on February 27, 2012:

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?

alyssa12389 on February 18, 2012:

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?

Sanara on February 12, 2012:

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?!

destiney on January 26, 2012:

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?

jo' on January 04, 2012:

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?

briee on December 26, 2011:

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

Demper on November 21, 2011:

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

Square on November 01, 2011:

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.

Havoc_66sic on October 22, 2011:

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

Evie_333 on October 03, 2011:

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 (:

Teesh on October 01, 2011:

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)

ariane on September 09, 2011:


shan on April 04, 2011:

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

Theoo on March 30, 2011:

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

littledannie on March 26, 2011:

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.

Smo on February 05, 2011:

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

Kylee marie on January 08, 2011:

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

cassidy_hates_you on October 23, 2010:

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)

abbygirl29 on September 03, 2010:

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.

dungeoneer on August 05, 2010:

@Raccoon - just checked - yes lol.

mika35 on July 26, 2010:

u know they forgot venoms righ

JASMiNE on July 08, 2010:


Rebel19 on July 05, 2010:

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?


Ellie on June 22, 2010:

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

baybaybay3 on May 07, 2010:

megan on February 23, 2010:

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.

Sana on January 11, 2010:

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

chykys on October 13, 2009:

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

Jessica. on August 07, 2009:

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?

ChloeVilleneuve on July 20, 2009:

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!

Alice-Dee on February 11, 2009:

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.

kelzy on February 04, 2009:

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

teeray from Canada on February 27, 2008:

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

tinyteddy from INDIA on February 27, 2008:


Klaskah on February 19, 2008:

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.

Raven King from Cabin Fever on January 21, 2008:

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