Tongue Piercing

A Definitive Tongue Piercing Guide: From A to Z

Tongue piercings have been making a splash in the world of body modifications for quite some time. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the ins and outs of tongue piercings, ensuring you’re well-informed before taking the plunge. We’ll discuss the process, the types of jewelry available, the aftercare required, and the potential risks involved in getting a tongue piercing. So, let’s dive into this definitive tongue piercing guide!

What is a Tongue Piercing?

A tongue piercing is a type of body modification where a hole is created through the tongue to insert and secure a piece of jewelry, usually a barbell or a stud. The standard tongue piercing is located at the center of the tongue, but there are many variations and placements, such as the popular midline piercing, which is a vertical piercing through the center of the tongue, and the horizontal tongue piercing that goes from one side to the other. Creative options like snake eyes, venom, and surface piercings offer unique possibilities, but some can pose risks to your oral health.

The tongue also has a center  line that connects both muscles together and is visible on most tongues. It is in this center line/connective tissue where the traditional piercing is placed.

Types of Tongue Piercings

The tongue is comprised of two muscles that are connected by a center line, known as the median sulcus. This center line is visible on most tongues and is made up of connective tissue. The traditional tongue piercing, also referred to as a midline tongue piercing, is placed through this center line or connective tissue.

The location of a tongue piercing can vary, with some opting for off-center or multiple piercings on the tongue. However, the vertical tongue piercing remains the most common and popular choice.

Vertical Tongue Piercing / Middle Tongue Piercing

The vertical tongue piercing, or middle tongue piercing, offers a bold and unique look. As the name suggests, this piercing goes vertically through the center of the tongue. It is less common than the standard tongue piercing, and its placement makes it particularly eye-catching. The healing process and aftercare requirements are similar to other tongue piercings, with proper oral hygiene being crucial for avoiding complications.

  • Pain level: 5/10
  • Healing time: 4-6 weeks
  • Cost: $40-$100
  • Best jewelry: Straight barbell

Snake Bite Piercing Tongue

Snake bite piercings are a striking choice for tongue piercings, creating the illusion of a snake bite with two piercings placed symmetrically on either side of the tongue. These piercings are typically done at the same time, and their positioning can be customized to suit the individual’s anatomy and preferences. The snake bite piercing has a slightly longer healing time compared to a single tongue piercing, and the aftercare is essential for both piercings.

  • Pain level: 6/10
  • Healing time: 4-8 weeks
  • Cost: $80-$200
  • Best jewelry: Straight barbells

Snake Eyes Piercing

The snake eyes piercing is a horizontal tongue piercing situated at the front of the tongue, resembling the eyes of a snake. This piercing has a unique appearance but carries a higher risk of dental damage due to its proximity to the teeth. Extra care must be taken during the healing process and when choosing jewelry to minimize complications. Regular dental check-ups are crucial for those with snake eyes piercings to monitor for any potential dental issues.

  • Pain level: 4/10
  • Healing time: 4-6 weeks
  • Cost: $40-$100
  • Best jewelry: Horizontal barbell

Tongue Web Piercing (Tongue Frenulum Piercing)

The tongue web piercing, or tongue frenulum piercing, is a discreet option for those who want a less visible tongue piercing. This piercing goes through the thin membrane connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Due to its location, the tongue web piercing has a lower risk of dental damage but still requires diligent aftercare to prevent infections and complications.

  • Pain level: 2/10
  • Healing time: 4-6 weeks
  • Cost: $30-$80
  • Best jewelry: Captive bead ring or curved barbell

Uvula Piercing

The uvula piercing is an unusual and rare tongue piercing option, involving the piercing of the uvula, the small piece of tissue hanging at the back of the throat. While some may find it aesthetically appealing, it is generally not recommended due to the high risk of complications, including choking hazards, infections, and difficulties with the healing process.

  • Pain level: 8/10
  • Healing time: 6-8 weeks
  • Cost: $100-$200
  • Best jewelry: Captive bead ring

Venom Piercing

A venom piercing is a daring variation of the tongue piercing, involving two side-by-side piercings placed towards the front of the tongue. It resembles a snake bite piercing but is situated closer to the tip of the tongue. The venom piercing requires careful placement and aftercare to minimize the risk of complications, and the healing process is slightly longer due to the presence of two piercings.

  • Pain level: 6/10
  • Healing time: 4-8 weeks
  • Cost: $80-$200
  • Best jewelry: Straight barbells

Frog Eyes Piercing

The frog eyes piercing, sometimes referred to as a double venom piercing, consists of two piercings placed side-by-side towards the back of the tongue. This unconventional piercing is less common than other tongue piercings, and its positioning makes it more challenging to perform. The frog eyes piercing requires a skilled piercer to ensure proper placement and minimize the risk of complications. The healing process and aftercare are similar to other tongue piercings but may be more challenging due to the location of the piercings.

  • Pain level: 6/10
  • Healing time: 4-8 weeks
  • Cost: $80-$200
  • Best jewelry: Straight barbells

Frowny Piercing

A frowny piercing, also known as an inverse smiley piercing or lower scrumper piercing, is an oral piercing located inside the lower lip. This piercing goes through the thin tissue, known as the frenulum, that connects the lower lip to the gum line. Because of its location, the frowny piercing is not immediately visible and can be quite subtle when the mouth is closed. Frowny piercings are generally less common than smiley piercings, which are located on the upper lip’s frenulum.

  • Pain level: 6/10
  • Healing time: 4-8 weeks
  • Cost: $80-$200
  • Best jewelry: Straight barbells specific to frowny piercing
Aspect Placement Pricing Pain Level Healing Time
Vertical Tongue Piercing / Middle Tongue Piercing Center of the tongue, vertically $40-$100 5/10 4-6 weeks
Snake Bite Piercing Tongue Two piercings on either side of the tongue $80-$200 6/10 4-8 weeks
Snake Eyes Piercing Horizontal at the front of the tongue $40-$100 4/10 4-6 weeks
Tongue Web Piercing (Tongue Frenulum Piercing) Through the thin membrane connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth $30-$80 2/10 4-6 weeks
Uvula Piercing Piercing of the uvula, the small piece of tissue hanging at the back of the throat $100-$200 8/10 6-8 weeks
Venom Piercing Two side-by-side piercings placed towards the front of the tongue $80-$200 6/10 4-8 weeks
Frog Eyes Piercing Two piercings placed side-by-side towards the back of the tongue $80-$200 6/10 4-8 weeks
Frowny Piercing Inside the lower lip, through the frenulum connecting the lower lip to the gum line $80-$200 6/10 4-8 weeks

Tongue piercing process

The tongue piercing process involves careful evaluation and planning, as the piercing can be positioned almost anywhere along the tongue, from the tip to the back. Before marking the placement, your piercer should examine both the top and bottom of your tongue and discuss the importance of concealment, your preferences for placement, and any future plans to stretch or add more piercings. It’s important to note that not all tongues are suitable for multiple piercings.

A central position is popular because it minimizes visibility and keeps the jewelry away from the teeth while still allowing for functionality and enjoyment. Piercing along the midline, both top and bottom, is perfectly safe. Contrary to a widely spread urban myth, piercing the bottom midline of the tongue is not dangerous, as the major nerves and arteries in the tongue are visible and located off to the sides. An experienced piercer will be able to effortlessly avoid these structures during the piercing process.

Tongue piercings are most commonly done using 14 or 12 gauge needles. The process involves clamping the tongue with forceps and pushing a needle through the tissue to create the hole. The jewelry is then inserted behind the needle to complete the procedure. In some cases, a larger needle may be used if the client requests a bigger gauge piece of jewelry.

To ensure safety and comfort, the piercing may be positioned a bit more forward on the underside of your tongue. This placement causes the top of the barbell to lean back toward the highest point of your upper palate, providing the most room in your oral cavity. Moreover, this angle helps prevent the jewelry from standing upright in your mouth, which could lead to the bottom ball pressing against your lower palate.

How much is a tongue piercing?

Tongue piercing usually costs somewhere between $40 and $100, including the jewelry. Keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the studio and the piercer’s experience. The key here is finding a piercer who’s experienced and trustworthy so that you can have a great piercing experience. And remember, taking care of your new piercing is super important, so be sure to follow all the aftercare advice!

Do tongue piercing hurt?

Some tongue piercings are more painful than others due to differences in placement, the number of piercings, and the individual’s anatomy. A few factors can contribute to varying pain levels. For example, certain areas of the tongue may have more nerve endings or blood vessels, making piercings in those locations more sensitive or painful. Piercings closer to the tip or the sides of the tongue might cause more discomfort compared to a standard middle tongue piercing.

Multiple piercings, such as snake bites, venom, or frog eyes, involve two or more punctures in the tongue. The additional piercings can increase the overall pain experienced during the procedure and the healing process. Each person’s tongue is unique in terms of size, shape, and the distribution of blood vessels and nerve endings. As a result, some individuals may experience more pain during a specific tongue piercing due to their unique anatomy.

Compared to other types of piercings, tongue piercings are generally considered less painful than cartilage piercings (e.g., helix or tragus piercings) because the tongue is a muscular, fleshy organ with fewer nerve endings. The most significant discomfort associated with tongue piercings often occurs during the healing process rather than the actual piercing. Swelling, soreness, and difficulty eating or speaking are common in the first few days after getting a tongue piercing. However, these symptoms usually improve within a week or two, and the overall healing process typically takes 4-6 weeks.

The skill and experience of the piercer can also impact the pain level during a tongue piercing. A skilled professional will typically ensure a smoother, faster procedure, which can help minimize discomfort. It’s essential to choose a reputable and experienced piercer to ensure proper placement and reduce the risk of complications, which can lead to increased pain during the healing process.

How long does a tongue piercing take to heal?

The healing process for a tongue piercing generally involves swelling and discomfort, which usually subside within the first one to two weeks. The actual healing time can vary depending on factors such as the individual’s overall health, oral hygiene, and adherence to aftercare practices, with complete healing typically occurring within 4-6 weeks.

Tongue piercings tend to heal relatively quickly due to their muscular nature and rich blood supply. Your speech might be temporarily affected when your piercing is new, but after the swelling subsides and you adjust, speech issues are generally minimal. Correctly placed piercings rarely cause speech alterations after a shorter bar is inserted.

Oral piercings are known to swell more and remain swollen longer than other types of piercings. To accommodate this swelling, a larger piece of jewelry is initially used, and it’s crucial to downsize the barbell once the swelling has subsided to maintain oral health. Wearing the shortest jewel that fits once healed can prevent harm to teeth, loss of jawbone density, and gum recession.

Scar tissue can develop during the healing process, appearing as a pinkish or whitish raised ring of hardened skin around the piercing. Limiting tongue activity and using the right care products can help minimize scar tissue formation.

Maintaining proper oral hygiene and following aftercare instructions are essential for ensuring a smooth and successful healing process.

Tongue Piercing aftercare

After the piercing, it’s crucial to follow proper hygiene and care during and after the healing process. It’s recommended to wash the piercing two to three times daily with a sea salt rinse and avoid any activity that will cause additional swelling or irritation until it’s fully healed. People are often concerned about infection, particularly with oral piercings, because of the belief that the mouth is dirty. However, saliva actually contains naturally occurring antimicrobials that help get rid of potentially harmful toxins that may enter.

How to prevent tooth damage or gum recession with a tongue piercing?

To prevent tooth damage and gum recession associated with a tongue piercing, it is essential to take several precautions that promote good oral health and minimize potential risks. Here are some tips to help you protect your teeth and gums while enjoying your tongue piercing:

  1. Choose appropriate jewelry: Opt for high-quality materials such as implant-grade titanium, 14k gold, or implant-grade surgical steel to minimize the chances of infection or allergic reactions. Select a comfortable size and design to ensure minimal contact and pressure on your teeth and gums.
  2. Downsize the barbell: After the initial healing period and once the swelling has subsided, replace the longer barbell with a shorter one. This will help prevent unnecessary contact between the jewelry and your teeth or gums, reducing the risk of tooth damage and gum recession.
  3. Proper placement: Make sure your piercer places the piercing in an optimal position that minimizes contact with your teeth and gums. A correctly placed tongue piercing should not frequently rub against or irritate these delicate oral structures.
  4. Avoid playing with the jewelry: Refrain from developing the habit of playing with your tongue piercing, as this can cause constant friction and pressure on your teeth and gums, potentially leading to chipping, cracking, or gum recession.
  5. Maintain good oral hygiene: Keeping your mouth clean and following aftercare instructions are crucial to prevent infections and complications that could indirectly contribute to tooth damage or gum recession. Use a soft toothbrush, non-alcoholic mouthwash, and gentle brushing techniques to maintain oral hygiene during the healing process.

Can you have a stretched tongue piercing?

Having a stretched tongue piercing is possible, but it should be approached with caution. Stretching a tongue piercing is often achievable for one or two gauges, but the process becomes more challenging when attempting larger sizes. A significant downside to enlarging the piercing is that the jewelry becomes heavier and larger, which in turn increases the risk of oral damage. If you’re considering a stretched tongue piercing, opt for acrylic jewelry, as it is lighter in weight. Additionally, ensure the jewelry posts fit snugly and select beads with a modest diameter.

Best jewelry for tongue piercing

For tongue piercings, straight barbells are the most commonly used jewelry. A straight barbell features a straight bar with a ball or other decorative element at each end. These balls can be easily screwed on and off, allowing for convenient jewelry changes once the piercing has healed.

When choosing the ideal jewelry for a tongue piercing, it’s crucial to consider the material, size, and quality of the piece. High-quality materials such as implant-grade titanium, 14k gold, or implant-grade surgical steel are highly recommended, as they significantly reduce the risk of infection or allergic reactions. Furthermore, selecting an appropriate size and comfortable design can also help ensure a smooth and successful healing process for your tongue piercing.


Can I talk normally after getting a tongue piercing?

Speaking may be challenging initially, as your tongue will likely be swollen and tender. However, as the swelling decreases, your speech should return to normal.

How old to get a tongue piercing?

The legal age for getting a tongue piercing varies depending on local laws and regulations. In most places, you must be at least 18 years old or have parental consent if you’re under 18.

Can you smoke with a tongue piercing?

It’s best to avoid smoking during the healing process, as it can increase the risk of infection and slow down healing. If you must smoke, make sure to rinse your mouth with a saline-based mouthwash afterward.

How to prevent tooth damage with a tongue piercing?

To prevent tooth damage, opt for acrylic or soft-tipped jewelry and avoid playing with the jewelry using your teeth. Maintain good oral hygiene and have regular dental check-ups.

Can you eat after a tongue piercing?

Yes, but stick to soft foods and avoid spicy, acidic, or hot items for the first few days. Gradually reintroduce your regular diet as swelling subsides and you feel more comfortable.

Can you vape after a tongue piercing?

Vaping can potentially introduce bacteria and irritants to the piercing, so it’s best to avoid it during the healing process. If you must vape, rinse your mouth with a saline-based mouthwash afterward.

Can you hide a tongue piercing?

It’s difficult to hide a tongue piercing entirely, but using a clear or flesh-toned retainer can make it less noticeable. Keep in mind that piercing retainers should only be used once the piercing has fully healed.

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