Tongue Piercing: Everything You Need to Know

This article covers:

  • General information about tongue piercings
  • Who can get them
  • How to get them done
  • What to expect before, during, and after
  • How to care for them
  • Common myths and their corresponding facts

It's important to note that not everyone can get a tongue piercing. It depends on the length of your tongue and where your veins are.

So Who Can and Can't Get Their Tongue Pierced?

Tongue piercings can be both risky and tricky in some cases. As stated above, not everyone can have them, though most people can.

It is extremely important that you allow a professionally licensed piercer to properly assess you before piercing.

Who can't get their tongue pierced?

  1. People who have a very short tongue. This includes you if you are unable to stick out your tongue or stick it out very far.
  2. People who have a lot of webbing that stretches far up the tongue. This webbing should NEVER be cut, as cutting can cause extreme swelling, suffocation, and bleeding. It is not legal for anyone but a medical surgeon in a hospital to cut a tongue to increase its length.
  3. People who have a vein in the wrong place. Some people have a vein directly down the centre of their tongue. Even so, you may be able to get a piercing if the piercer can put it at a slight slant or offset it so it doesn't touch your artery. You may not be able to get venoms (a piercing on either side) if your veins are running down the sides of the tongue. Your piercer can assess whether this will be an issue.
  4. People with certain health conditions. If you suffer from any form of paralysis, nerve issues, or indeed any health conditions you should alert your piercer.
  5. People who are under the age limit set by the piercer, usually between 14-16 years for a piercing with parental consent or 16-18 without. You need to ask the studio before you go. This might vary according to local laws.

Things You Need to Know Before Having a Tongue Piercing Done

There are a lot of bad stereotypes around tongue piercings. One is that they get infected very easily. The fact is, they won't get infected if you follow the proper aftercare.

Most commonly they are infected through people kissing or being intimate orally with other people too soon after getting their tongue pierced. Eating and drinking will not cause infection.

You should always research a body modification before getting it done. You need to know the process, what questions to ask, what to look out for, and how to choose a studio.

Choosing Your Studio

You should choose a studio that has been established for a long time and has plenty of experience with piercing. You should also choose a studio that carries a government license.

Professional piercers can prove they are licensed. You should never go somewhere just because it is cheapest; the cheaper it is, the lower the quality of the service and equipment that you will get. You are welcome to shop around, look for reviews, and find somewhere that fits just right.


Tongues are usually pierced with a 16 - 18mm by 1.6mm straight barbell, made from either titanium or surgical steel. Your piercer will want to explain about potential allergies some people have to surgical steel, and have you sign a document to show you understand.

Titanium is the best metal because it is the least likely to cause the skin to react. You should never have a tongue pierced with a short bar, with any metal other than titanium or surgical grade steel, or with a ring. Your barbell can come in any colour and type and you will be free to choose at the studio.

You'll likely go back to the piercer to get a shorter barbell once the swelling has gone down.

Pain Level

Tongue piercing is typically one of the least painful piercings, but this depends on the person. For me the pain level was at a zero. I felt it, but it didn't hurt me in the slightest. The longer your tongue is, the less you will feel.

Getting Your Piercing Done

Once you have chosen your studio and gone to get your piercing, you can go in and ask as many questions as you want. You should always go somewhere reputable and very clean that does not reuse their equipment.

When you go in you will be asked to sign a consent form. You should read this carefully. Let your piercer know if you are on any medication, or have any health conditions or any allergies. These can have a big impact.

Be sure you're feeling fit and healthy when you go to get your piercing. Menstruation does not count for feeling under the weather: I am talking about a cold, getting over an illness, or being on antibiotics.

Also, be sure to brush your teeth, floss, and rinse your mouth with an anti-septic mouthwash beforehand to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth.

Once you have signed your consent form and chosen your jewellery, your piercer will set up the cubicle, private room or piercing station for you. At this time you may ask how they clean their tools, how long they have been piercing, or any other information. You'll want to ask your questions now because you might not feel like talking much after the procedure.

The Piercing


Before they pierce, they will check your veins. Sometimes if they cannot see them clearly they will use a blue light on your skin to be certain. They may pierce straight down the middle, at a slight angle, off to one side, or in another position.

The piercing should never be close to the tip and should never touch the teeth or cause a speech impediment. Speech impediments only happen if the person has a tongue that is too short to pierce correctly, or if it has been pierced wrong (too close to the tip).


Here are the basic steps of the actual piercing:

  • Once they mark the position, they will clamp the area and pierce you.
  • After the needle has gone through, they will remove that, and slide the jewellery in through the tube that remains in the tongue.
  • Then, they will attach the ball and then you are ready to leave.
  • They will let you check it out in the mirror and make sure you're okay before you go.


Once you leave the studio, the piercing is in your hands. The piercer will have done it professionally with sterile equipment. People do not seem to understand that any infections that follow always come through lack of proper care and the piercer is not going to take the blame. That's why you get a piercing done by a licensed professional and sign a consent form.

They should give you some advice on aftercare. If they don't offer it, ask if they can write down the instructions or give you a handout or flyer.


Your aftercare is the most important part of your piercing. Once you have it done, you are responsible for it. Your piercer will talk you through basic care and you should follow their advice. They are the professional.

You want to make sure you have a clean toothbrush, your own toothpaste, and alcohol-free mouthwash. Washing with alcohol is more likely to aggravate the piercing and cause extra swelling and discomfort. Used over the long term it can stain the teeth and burn your mouth.

Things you must avoid after getting a new piercing:

  • Drinking hot drinks such as tea or coffee
  • Paracetamol or aspirin (which can increase swelling by thinning the blood)
  • Alcoholic mouthwash
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Kissing—for a minimum of three weeks after getting your tongue pierced. Kissing is the second most likely source of infection risk.
  • Oral relations—for a minimum for three months after getting your tongue pierced. This is the greatest source of infection risk.
  • Playing with the piercing.
  • Putting your hands in your mouth for any reason at all, as this will spread germs and potential health risks
  • Smoking: this can cause irritation, infection, discomfort and excess swelling.
  • NEVER remove or attempt to change a piercing. A tongue piercing is the fastest to close and can close within seconds of being removed. Oral piercings heal and shut very quickly.

You may eat and drink virtually anything else from curry to fizzy drinks, however, be warned that spicy food may make your piercing sore. Most people can eat normally after a tongue piercing, I myself ate normal solids straight after, though you might find softer foods easier to handle.

Nevertheless, your piercing is an open wound. Although it can heal within a month, it is advised not to do any of the above for a minimum of two to three months, as they could lead to complications or serious infection.

Healing Time

Most tongue piercings are healed well enough 2-4 weeks after getting them done, depending on the person, the care and how much swelling there has been. Oral piercings are the fastest to heal and least likely to have problems if cared for correctly. A piercing will usually be fully healed within eight weeks. Most are healed before that, but again, it depends on you.


Your piercing needs to be cleaned 1-2 times per day in the morning and at night. You should brush your teeth as you normally do and rinse with warm water and mouthwash. Do not rinse excessively with the mouthwash. After eating you can rinse with water or have plenty to drink. If you have to touch your piercing (which you shouldn't), be sure to wash your hands well beforehand.


It is normal to have a lot of swelling after a tongue piercing. To reduce it you need to sleep with your head elevated above your heart. You can prop yourself up which is even better.

Ibuprofen is good for pain relief (which you likely won't have) and also for reducing swelling. Sucking on clean ice cubes and drinking cold drinks can really help. The swelling is worst on days two and three, and will reduce over the next week.

Myths vs. Facts

There are many popular misconceptions about tongue piercings.


  1. Tongue piercings are traditionally signs of prostitutes and the promiscuous.
  2. Tongue piercings nearly always get infected.
  3. You can pierce yourself if you know where your veins are.
  4. The cheapest studio is the same as an expensive one, just cheaper.
  5. You can buy piercing equipment online that's sterile.
  6. You can go out drinking after getting a tongue piercing.
  7. Smoking doesn't affect tongue piercings.
  8. Tongue piercings cause speech impediments.
  9. Tongue piercings break your teeth.
  10. Tongue piercings leave terrible scars.


  1. Tongue piercings have been around in many kinds of people and in many tribes throughout history. Most people get a tongue piercing done for reasons that have nothing to do with sex. The truth is that it causes little stimulation.
  2. Tongue piercings are actually unlikely to get infected and will very rarely become infected IF CARED FOR CORRECTLY. If it is infected, it hasn't been looked after right.
  3. You should never attempt to pierce yourself as you could permanently hurt yourself.
  4. The cheapest studios have fewer highly qualified piercers, lower-quality equipment, less choice of jewellery, and a lower-grade reputation. You pay for quality.
  5. Piercing equipment online may be sold as sterile, but it rarely is. Many times it is just dipped in alcohol or vinegar. By the time it reaches you it could have pricked no end of fingers, or have become severely contaminated.
  6. You should avoid alcohol for a minimum of two to three weeks after a piercing as it can cause irritation, pain, excess swelling and other complications.
  7. Smoking can cause extra swelling, infection and other problems and should be avoided for at least two to three weeks after a piercing.
  8. A correctly pierced tongue will not cause a speech impediment. Some studios will illegally cut tongue webbing or will pierce a tongue that is too short just to get money.
  9. Again, a correctly pierced tongue will do no damage to the teeth.
  10. Tongue piercings rarely leave any scars or marks when removed—but can close very quickly.

Normal or Abnormal?

When you get a tongue piercing you need to know what to expect.

Things That Are Normal

  • Swelling for up to two weeks after having the piercing. Normally the swelling fills the longer bar and reduces after around four days.
  • Some discomfort, especially when eating or talking excessively.
  • Feeling a little "run down," swollen glands, and tiredness. You feel this way because your body sees the piercing as a foreign object and will send the troops (i.e. your immune system) to investigate.
  • Not being able to stick your tongue out fully.
  • A small amount of white or very pale yellow pus coming out of the piercing. This should have no odour.

Things That Are Not Normal

  • Excessive swelling that gets worse even after four days, so that the bar becomes embedded or painful, or the piercing feels as though blood flow is being cut off
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dark brown, green or yellow pus, especially with an odour (a sign of infection)
  • Blisters on the tongue, burning, redness, excess swelling (a sign of allergy)
  • Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, flu symptoms
  • Bleeding, other than a tiny amount just after the piercing
  • Pain after the first day of having it done, or pain that gets worse
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Speech impediments
  • Paralysis

If you have any of the abnormal symptoms above, you should speak to a piercer immediately and then go to the hospital if they advise. You should NEVER remove an infected piercing yourself, as the infection will become trapped in your body and poison your blood. If you are concerned, speak to someone immediately.

I must state the risk of infection is drastically smaller than the stereotype says. Infection is 99% caused by people kissing or being orally intimate with people before the piercing is healed.

If infection happens, it's usually in the first month of having it done. Lack of care causes infection. A piercing, any piercing, is an open wound and should be treated just like you'd treat any other wound: WITH CAUTION.

More by this Author


Princess Kitten 5 days ago

i got my tongue pierced monday around 3pm and it is now thursday night, 12am so i guess it's technically wednesday morning but when can i start sleeping without my head elevated?

Samantha 13 days ago

I feel like the speech impediment part of this is kind of bullshit. Depending on how close to the top your piercing is located swelling and adjusting to having a ton of metal in your mouth is going to cause you to talk a little wonky and trying to eat with the extended barbells isn't going to feel normal and food might tug on the rings a bit. Also I think the fact that you address over and over the sexual connotations behind tongue piercings and try to refute that to be strange. Some piercings are inherently intimate or sexual. There is nothing wrong with that. I mean it's not always the case but I see nothing wrong with it.

Rachael 4 weeks ago

I've been looking into getting this done and I was curious about how long you should avoid dairy after you get it done

Lolly 6 weeks ago

I had my tounge done for 13 days and I have a white bit In front of my bar, is this normal?

Claudia 2 months ago

I've had my tongue ring in for 3 days. When I eat solids it hurts but I know that that's normal,my tongue is white and a bit yellow is it normal?

This girl 2 months ago

I used alcoholic mouthwash after I got mine pierced to clean it. It makes no sense to use mouthwash without alcohol because its not cleaning anything and it'll probably take longer for the piercing to heel. Mine heeled in a week and a half

Hollie 2 months ago

I got my tongue pierced yesterday and it started to swell up quite abit. Today my tongue isn't as swollen and I'm able to speak better but still can't eat solids. My piercer said to use mouthwash twice a day but I use it three times a day instead. He said I can change the longer barbell to a shorter one after 2 weeks I'm not too sure if I should leave it for a little longer so it's fully healed.

Sarah 2 months ago

Hi, I am going to be getting my tounge pirced next week but im a bit worried about my pircing getting infected as i think i have bronchitis but the doctor said it could just be ashma and if that doesn't stop my cough then she said go back in 3 weeks will this affect my pircing ?

Jessie 3 months ago

I had my tongue done roughly 20 years ago. I removed it 8 years or so after because it started hurting. I changed barbells did not help. Nowthe flaps are on top of my tongue still as mentioned above. Under my tounge is a small nodule around where the ring went through. I was told by a dentist it was a tumor caused by tongue rings. I can get the ring part of the way through on both sides but not in the middle. Just wanted to know should I chance redoing it? Or leave it alone?

Elizabethpalacios 3 months ago

I want to get a Tatring

Ari 3 months ago

Im thinking about getting mine done but, im kinda scared about my tongue being to short. How long does your tongue have to be???

Dimplez 3 months ago

I got mines done a month ago I like it a lot I'm changing my jewelry next week it's cute

Eli 3 months ago

I am getting my tongue done in one wk (the 6 of july) and I am soooo excited.

4 months ago

I love my piercing

Amanda 6 months ago

I got mine done last Thursday and its Wednesday now.. the swelling has gone down significantly and I can now eat most solid foods. waiting for next Thursday so that i can get a shorter barbell since this long one gets in the way of EVERYTHING. all in all.. very worth it.

Ellie 6 months ago

Tongue piercings wear out your gums on the back of your teeth and cause gum recession. I have a friend who had to get gum grafting to save her teeth due to gum recession because of her tongue piercing.

I personally removed mine after viewing the inside of by bottom teeth and noticing gum recession. I've had mine for almost 10 years and have gauged the piercing up to a 2g. I've always worn acrylic barbells except for right after gauging (I'd keep the metal one in for about a week prior to switching to acrylic). My gum damage is as bad due to the tongue ring being decently far back as well as not too much movement and rubbing against teeth and gums whilst speaking.

Everyone is a bit different with a bit of difference in piercing placement, so I just suggest you keep an eye on your gums.

Allanah McDermott 6 months ago

got mine done tuesday

its saturday

swelling has gone down significantly and it only hurts when i wake up because i assume i grind my teeth, so im probably moving it around a lot in my sleep

on a scale of 1 to 10 it hurt maybe a 3

the pain of the healing hurts more than the initial piercing. ive had a small amount of pain if i move it quickly or eat something too fast, which id have to assume is normal as it is an open would in my tongue.

i had it pierced with some cutesy ball that was kinda oval shaped that said shit happens on top

it kept popping off and so i replaced the top ball with a straight silver one

if you just eat soft foods after and avoid solids you will have to relearn to eat solids and it will SUCK

they say not to drink through a straw but a loophole to that is bring the straw all the way to the back of your tongue, behind the piercing


dairy can cause a yeast infection, but if you want icecream or a glass of milk, or such, just brush really well and rinse w salt water afterwards.

suck on ice, it will help w swelling and pain

i have to admit cold drinks helped a lot this week

ive bought atleast 3 sodas and a tea from local convenience stores this week just to drink to help my tongue

i thought soda would hurt but i drank some directly after piercing it

im not sure about citrus sodas but big red and coke and dr pepper have been fine for me so far

and arizona also was fine. If anyone needs advice feel free to email me :P

Chloe 6 months ago

I'm thinking of getting it done but I'm scared that it will hert and will get infected what should I do

someone 8 months ago

there are no licenced piercers in my country I AM SO ANGRY anyway would it be better to get it from a doctor or a popular, experienced piercer??? I know its more likely that no one will answer but yeah.

Belle 11 months ago

I'm planning on getting it done but I've had my nose pierced twice (because it closed) and it hurts to move it when I need to plus I had my lip pierced for a while again I wasn't able to move it when I needed to it closed up and has a huge bump. both resulted in a sharing pain causing the areas to be sore and I'm really wanting my tongue pierced but idk do you think it will get infected of my my body will reject it?

Laura 12 months ago

I got it done on 10/13/15 i have no swelling i can talk normal but the long barbell is sliding up and down and the top ball is like touching my tongue like sitting on top of it. I talked to my piercer and he said tp buy a short bar now because youre tongue is ready for .... Is this possible?

PirsingBevana profile image

PirsingBevana 12 months ago from Tauron

Very good post abouth piercing.

shaina 13 months ago

do you have to get it done with metal balls?

chucky 13 months ago

I got mine done last night. It hurts like hell i cant eat drink and its hard to talk. My tongue is all yellow but i cleaned it, it went away then came back after like an hr. Idk if its cuz its swollen or it wasnt done right but i cant lift my tounge up words it feels like its ripping. The bottom ball is closer to the tip then the top ball. Is this normal or should i remove it??

Zash 14 months ago

i got my second tongue piercing on Wednesday and it's now Sunday!

When I got my first one done the swelling was gone within two days and I was eating smarties chocolate!

But this time the swelling has stayed for longer but it has gone down heaps I could not speak properly for two days and I was mouth washing it with listeerene but I changed to salt and warm water about 2 days ago and I rinse my mouth with that after I have a smoke or eat and it's healing faster (I used this solution the first time I got it done) but the bottom of the second bat is right on my web and it stings when I move my tongue but other then that I've got no problems except I'm annoyed with my tongue feeling so big in my mouth!

Josh 15 months ago

I got my tongue done on Tuesday an it's still swelling hurts when I talk / eat / drink my throat hurts sometimes! I didn't stop smoking I kept on doing it I clean my mouth with mouth wash every morning an all threw out the day I use warm salt water , is the pain normal ??

Tiff 15 months ago

If you have white areas inside the hole & can't be removed , is this skin growing back?

Jessiie 15 months ago

I've had my tongue pierced for about 4 days now, there was a little pain after it was pierced but after about 2 days it disappears, it will take up to 3-5 days for the swelling to go and about 2-3 weeks before it heals properly. They say you can't smoke when you've had your done but i carried on smoking literally after mine was pierced and theres no problems whatsoever. Trust me it does hurt but everyone has their own opinion, if you want it done, go get it. Hope this helps :)

Zoe 16 months ago

I got my tongue piercing two days ago, when I got it, it didn't swell or bleed but yesterday it started swelling & there is this yellow type of stuff coming out on top of where the whole is soo I think it may be doing it because I kissed my boyfriend last night so maybe I should just wait till it is healthy. Would it go away if don't kiss him again .. ????

galaxykitteh 16 months ago

uhh if you play with it it can damage your teeth, this is why I removed mine. And it can scar, I have a small flap of loose tongue after 2 years without the piercing.

denisse 18 months ago

its been 10yrs that i haven't wear a tongue ring I've been wearing my retainer. Can i reuse my barbell?

Jo 19 months ago

ive had my tongue pierced for 10 weeks now but today it has become a bit painful and feels like it might be swelling. What should i do?

viol 19 months ago

what about the amount of webbing for tongue web piercing? because i want a tongue web piercing but i don't think i have enough webbing

jodi 19 months ago

this information provided is very helpful im having seconds thoughts now don't think i want to put my tongue through all thatpain. and my tongue is short so I guess i shouldn't get it done tho I like to see it.

Monica 20 months ago

I have had my tongue ring just slightly over a week. There is no swelling, I can do everything normally but I constantly have a horrible stinging sensation it causes me much pain until I rub the area where it is stinging...i'm not sure if this is normal..or how to stop it from stinging all together... :( Help!?

Raven 20 months ago

I'm getting my tongue pierced soon and I've heard people can die from it has there been any recorded deaths or paralysis? I'm just very invested in every piercing I get

Brogan 20 months ago

I have veins running into the centre of my tongue am I still able to get it pierced?

Ki 20 months ago

This was very helpful but some of your information is completely false.

-Tongue piercings will cause a slight speech impediment when the tongue swells up

-The "good fluids" that secrete from the wholes are NOT PUS. Pus is a sign of infection.

-Tongue jewelry can damage teeth if it is constantly played with or bitten no matter the quality of the piercing itself

-Peircing equipment is usually purchased in bulk online and are often sterilized by the piercers themselves

-There will be pain due to swelling and tender tongue right after getting it pierced. Just because you didn't have pain you shouldn't advise others that they will not.

-Not all establishments have set prices so their prices DO NOT always determine the quality of their work.

-The experience of the healing process depends on each individual so it's best to keep information more broad than personal.

Taylor 21 months ago

I've had my tongue pierced for about 4 days now. I still feel some pain and still a little hard to talk but not near as bad as it was when I first got it pierced. Is this normal? And if so how much longer do I have before all pain is gone and I can talk and eat normal foods agian?

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article