Should You Get a Tongue Piercing? A Comprehensive Guide

Leigha is a writer and artist living in Toronto, Ontario. She loves to mix and match…

Have you been thinking about getting a tongue piercing? It’s a big decision, and it’s important to understand the risks and benefits involved before you go ahead.

We’ve put together this guide to give you the basics on tongue piercings – from cost and healing time, to what styles and types are available.

So, what is a tongue piercing? And how is it done?

What is a tongue piercing?

Tongue piercings are a popular type of body modification that involves puncturing the tongue with a small metal bar or ring. 

The piercing is done using a special needle, which is carefully guided through the tongue and fitted with a barbell-style jewelry piece or other small studs and rings. 

The metal remains in place for several weeks until the tongue has healed completely. During this time, it is important to take proper care of the piercing to prevent infection and ensure proper healing. 

It might seem a bit intense, but with the right care and attention, tongue piercings can be a fun way to add some style and unique flair to your look!

woman with midline tongue piercing

History of Tongue Piercings

Tongue piercings have a long and varied history. While the practice is most commonly associated with contemporary youth culture, it has roots in ancient cultures. 

For example, the Aztecs believed that tongue piercings could help communicate with the gods, and the Mayans thought that the piercings could help to promote good health. 

In more recent history, tongue piercings became popular among certain subcultures, such as the punk rockers of the 1970s and 1980s, to express individualism. 

Why were tongue piercings invented?

Tongue piercings first began as a form of ritual by ancient Aztecs and Mayans for their gods. Both civilizations believed that the mouth held a certain connection to deities. 

Tongue piercings provided a way to communicate with and honor these gods through blood sacrifices and ritual offerings.

Piercing a person’s tongue as a form of worship continued over time and was transformed when the practice spread to ancient China. These piercings were thought to be a form of body modification for royalty and nobility. Instead of a ritual for gods, they were meant to reflect a person’s power and status.

Why do people get tongue piercings?

There is no simple answer to why people get tongue piercings because nowadays, people get pierced for many reasons. People of all ages and backgrounds wear tongue piercings as a form of self-expression. 

So, whether you’re looking to make a fashion statement or pay tribute to ancient tradition, a tongue piercing can be a unique and stylish way.

7 Common Types of Tongue Piercings 

While there are several types of tongue piercings, some are more popular than others. Each has benefits and drawbacks, but here we will briefly describe seven of the most common types. 

Midline Piercing

woman with midline type of tongue piercing

The midline piercing is the tongue piercing you see most often. It is the most common and safest, where the tongue is pierced through the middle between the connective tissue.

Side Tongue Piercing

tongue piercing illustrations
side piercing is the middle one on the bottom row

The side tongue piercing is placed on the outside edges of the tongue and is commonly done using either a straight barbell or ring.

Venom Piercing

venom piercing


Venom piercings involve two holes on either side of the tongue, usually placed from the middle to tip of the tongue. These piercings will bring a uniqueness to anyone’s look!

Scoop Tongue Piercing

scoop piercing


Scoop piercings are a surface piercing that, unlike many other tongue piercings, do not pierce entirely through the tongue. Instead, they are curved through the middle of the tongue, generally horizontally.

Snake Eyes Piercing

snake eyes tongue piercing


The appearance of this piercing is what gives it it’s name. Snake eyes is another kind of surface piercing located on the tip of the tongue and pierced horizontally using a curved barbell.

Tongue Frenulum Piercing

frenulum piercing


The tongue frenulum piercing (or web piercing) is performed on the underside of the tongue through the “web” where the tongue connects to the gum plating. 

Multiple Tongue Piercings

woman with multiple tongue piercings


Multiple piercings are just like what the name suggests – there are multiple kinds of piercings! This type combines many of the ones we’ve mentioned, so you could have a midline and venom piercing or try out the snake eyes and frenulum piercings.

Getting a Tongue Piercing

Getting a tongue piercing can be daunting, and no wonder – it’s a piece of metal going through your tongue! But it doesn’t have to be scary. We’ll outline some things you should know before going ahead with this unique jewelry piece.

How old do you have to be for a tongue piercing?

For most states in the US, the required age to get a tongue piercing is 18. However, if you’re under 18 and want a tongue piercing, you may be able to do so with parental consent. 

This all depends on state laws, so check if your state allows minors to be pierced, and what ages require parental consent.

How much do tongue piercings cost?

Tongue piercings will typically cost between $30 to $100. This price depends on the quality of the jewelry you choose, how complicated the piercing is to perform and how many pieces are being added.

How to Prepare for a Tongue Piercing

Generally, the best way to prepare for a tongue piercing is to know what’s best for you, but we’ve put together some helpful tips to get you on the right track.

Find a Professional

There’s no rush in finding the right person to do your piercing. Be sure to find a reputable piercer who works in a clean environment. Legitimate shops should have a license to operate, and piercers should be APP-certified. 

You can also ask people you know or look at online reviews and post a question on the web about other people’s experiences with tongue piercing. 

Find out what people liked or didn’t like and check a shop’s website for information on their piercing methods – this will help you to learn what works best for you.

Study Common Procedures

Do a little of your own research on common piercing practices and the types of equipment they use. For example, equipment should be regulated and sterilized before use.

Or, if you know someone getting a tongue piercing, make an adventure out of it! Go with them and watch the procedure to get first-hand tongue piercing experience.

Stay Clean

Make sure your mouth is clean even before a piercing. This can help reduce the risk of infection (and your piercer probably doesn’t want to see what you had for lunch).

Choose the Right Jewelry

There are lots of jewelry options to choose from for different types of tongue piercings, but some pieces are better fitting for certain styles. For example, you probably want to use a straight barbell for a midline or venom piercing.

If you have any known allergies to metals, let your piercer know so they can help you find the perfect piece. Gold and titanium are two hypoallergenic metals that we recommend for your jewelry.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Ask your piercer what kinds of piercings they’ve done in the past, what they specialize in, and what tips they can give for taking care of any specific type of tongue piercing. 

Taking the time to have your questions answered, no matter how weird, will help you AND your piercer feel more comfortable and secure during the experience.

Just Relax

Remember that most tongue piercings go on without a hitch, so as long as you take proper care of it and follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions, you will get through it!

Do they numb your tongue before piercing?

Typically, numbing medicine is not given before any kind of piercings. Discomfort or pain is normal after this procedure but should only last for about a week. 

There are also methods for alleviating the pain, such as sucking on iced cubes and taking pain medications if the pain becomes too intense.

What type of jewelry is used for a tongue piercing?

The most common type of jewelry used for a tongue piercing is a barbell. Barbells are commonly used in the midline, venom, and side tongue piercings.

What size tongue bar do they pierce with? 

An initial tongue piercing will use a barbell measuring 7/8-inch. 

This length is used to accommodate for swelling as the site heals, but once your piercing heals fully, you can change it out for a smaller size.

How bad do tongue piercings hurt?

Your tongue contains muscles, blood vessels, and nerve endings, meaning there will be some pain during piercing. 

The good news is that many people have reported that tongue piercings are not as painful as you might think. Some have even described the procedure as less painful than an ear piercing.

💡 Take Note: Pain tolerance varies per person, so the best way to know how painful a tongue piercing will be is to know how you respond to pain.

What jewelry material is used for a tongue piercing?

Tongue piercings generally use 14 gauge (14G) high-grade titanium or gold in their jewelry.

These metals are common for piercings because they are lightweight, hypoallergenic, and will not tarnish in the mouth during the healing process.

How long does it take for tongue piercings to heal?

Most professionals recommend giving your body between 6-8weeks to completely heal. The healing process depends, however, on the individual and how well a new piercing is cared for.

How fast do tongue piercings close?

Although the healing process is fairly slow, a tongue piercing can close up quickly. Tongue piercings, no matter how long they have been in, can close in a matter of days to about two weeks. 

💡 Quick Tip: If you don’t want your piercing to close, be sure to keep jewelry pieces in or only take them out for short periods at a time.

How to Care for Tongue Piercings 

A tongue piercing can be a great way to express your personal style. However, it’s important to take proper care of your new piercing to ensure that it heals quickly and doesn’t become infected. 

In the first few days after getting your tongue pierced, stick to soft foods and avoid hot drinks. Rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution several times daily. 

The tongue is a sensitive body part, so it’s important to avoid moving or playing with the piercing since this can damage the tissue further and delay the healing process.

After about a week, you can start to eat harder foods and drink hot beverages, but avoid bumping or knocking into the piercing. Always clean the piercing site before and after eating or drinking. 

Tongue piercings generally heal completely after 6-8 weeks, but it’s important to follow all aftercare instructions from your piercer to ensure a speedy and complication-free recovery.

How do you clean tongue piercings?

Most of the time, after a piercing, your piercer will provide specific aftercare instructions. But if you’re still unsure, there are common practices to keep the site clean.

The best suggestions we can give to clean your piercing is to drink plenty of water and use a daily mouth rinse. The ADA suggests using an alcohol-free mouth wash regularly throughout the healing process and maintaining a standard oral hygiene regimen.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Tongue piercings have the potential to come with complications, so having a lot of questions isn’t unusual. 

We’ve attempted to answer some of the more common questions regarding tongue piercings.

How long do tongue web piercings last?

Although web piercings, or frenulum piercings, have a high risk of rejection compared to other tongue piercings, they can last several years with proper care. 

How long a web piercing lasts depends on many factors, but on average, it can last up to five years.

What is the safest tongue piercing?

The dorsoventral tongue piercing, otherwise known as the midline piercing, is the safest option as it avoids most of the major blood vessels in the tongue. 

This type of tongue piercing is also the most common and has the least number of complications – most people getting their tongue pierced for the first time will opt for the midline.

How long after tongue piercing can you eat?

While you can technically eat immediately following a tongue piercing, choose carefully as some sharp or spicy foods can scratch and damage the piercing site, causing discomfort. 

Soft and bland foods – such as applesauce, yogurt, and warm soup – are the best choice during the early stages of healing.

Can you smoke with a tongue piercing?

You should never smoke during the healing period after a tongue piercing – smoking can damage the area and risk infection.

If you do smoke, whether regularly or occasionally, use a recommended mouth rinse before and after smoking to ensure the site remains clean.

Who shouldn’t get a tongue piercing?

There are a few reasons why a person shouldn’t get a tongue piercing, and while many of them are health-related, some can be for personal reasons, too. Often, a piercer will let you know if the tongue piercing you want to get is right for you. 

If your tongue is too short to stick out, or if the webbing beneath is too long, these create difficulties during piercing, and your piercer might advise against it.

There are also many oral and dental risks related to tongue piercings. These include chipped teeth, enamel wear, and a receding gum line. 

If any of these factors are pre-existing concerns or possible risks, a tongue piercing might not be right for you.

Dare to Be Different!

If you’re considering a tongue piercing, we hope this article has helped to educate you on the process and what to expect. 

Tongue piercings are unique and can be fun, so if you’re thinking about getting this type of piercing, don’t be afraid to embrace your uniqueness! 

Just make sure you take the time to learn about the process and find a qualified piercer who will help you make the right decision.

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