Tongue Piercing Types: Complete Guide

Are you intrigued by the idea of getting a tongue piercing but overwhelmed by the sheer variety of options? Puzzled, astonished, and stumped about which type is right for you? Worry no more! In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of tongue piercing types to help you find the perfect fit for your personal style.

We’ll discuss popular options, unique styles, and even share some helpful tips on choosing the best tongue piercing for you. By the end of this guide, you’ll have a clear understanding of the diverse tongue piercing types and feel empowered to make an informed decision. Let’s get started!

Key Points

  • The most common type of tongue piercing is midline tongue piercing, which is located down the center of the tongue.
  • The ideal spot for a tongue piercing varies depending on the specific style you choose.
  • Tongue piercings heal within a month, but challenging in the first week
  • Smoking and eating can be challenging with a new tongue piercing.
  • Swelling and speech difficulties are common with tongue piercing.
  • Straight barbells, curved barbells, captive bead rings, and surface barbells are the most common jewelry types for tongue piercings.

Different Types of Tongue Piercings

  • Midline Tongue Piercing

This classic tongue piercing, also known as vertical tongue piercing is the most common type you’ll come across. It’s positioned straight down the center of the tongue, usually about half an inch to three-quarters of an inch back from the tip. The midline piercing is the go-to choice for many first-timers and offers a wide range of jewelry options to suit your style.

  • Double Tongue Piercing

A double tongue piercing features two midline piercings, one in front of the other, usually with some space between them. This bold option allows for creative jewelry combinations and adds an extra touch of flair to your body art. Remember to consult with a professional piercer to discuss appropriate spacing and jewelry choices.


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  • Scoop Tongue Piercing

Also known as a surface tongue piercing, the scoop piercing involves a single barbell placed horizontally along the upper surface of the tongue. This style is less common, as it carries a higher risk of rejection and complications. If you’re interested in this option, be sure to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced piercer.


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  • Frog Eye / Venom Tongue Piercing

Frog eye piercing, also known as venom piercing refer to the same style, which consist of two separate piercings placed vertically on either side of the tip of the tongue. These piercings resemble a snake or frog’s eye pattern, hence the names. Straight barbells are the most common jewelry choice for frog eye/venom bites piercings. As with other tongue piercings, it’s crucial to follow proper aftercare instructions and consult with an experienced piercer to minimize the risk of complications.

  • Snake Eyes / Horizontal Tongue Piercing

Looking for something a little different? Snake eyes may be just the ticket. Snake eyes, also known as horizontal tongue piercing, is a single piercing that goes horizontally through the tip of the tongue, giving the appearance of snake-like eyes. A curved barbell is typically used as jewelry for this style, as it accommodates the shape of the tongue’s tip. Be aware that snake eye piercing has a higher risk of complications, so it’s essential to find an experienced piercer.


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  • Tongue Web / Frenulum Piercing

The tongue web piercing, also known as the frenulum or Marley piercing, is a more discreet option located under the tongue. It’s pierced through the thin web of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth. A small curved barbell, a captive bead ring, or a circular barbell is typically used as jewelry for a tongue web piercing. While this piercing may not be as visible as others, it still adds a unique and surprising touch to your body art collection.

  • Frowny Piercing

The frowny piercing, also known as the inverse smiley or frowning piercing, is located on the lower frenulum – the thin tissue that connects the bottom lip to the lower gum line. This piercing is not as visible as some other oral piercings, making it a more discreet option. A frowny piercing typically uses a captive bead ring or a small curved barbell as jewelry. The healing process for a frowny piercing is usually around 6-8 weeks, and proper aftercare is crucial for preventing infection and promoting a smooth healing experience.

  • Smiley Piercing

The smiley piercing, or upper lip frenulum piercing, is placed on the small piece of tissue that connects the upper lip to the upper gum line. This piercing is visible when you smile, hence the name “smiley.” Like the frowny piercing, a smiley piercing usually involves using a captive bead ring or a small curved barbell as jewelry. The healing time for a smiley piercing is generally between 4-6 weeks.

  • Uvula Piercing

A uvula piercing is a rare and unique oral piercing that goes through the uvula, the small, fleshy piece of tissue that hangs at the back of your throat. Due to its location, this piercing is not visible unless the wearer intentionally shows it off. A straight or curved barbell is the standard jewelry choice for a uvula piercing. The healing time for a uvula piercing is around 6-8 weeks.

  • Gum Piercing

Gum piercing is a type of oral piercing that goes through the gum tissue, typically near the base of the teeth. This piercing can be done on either the lower or upper gum line. Upper gum piercing is a variation of gum piercing that specifically targets the upper gum area. A small curved barbell or a micro dermal anchor is usually used as jewelry for gum piercings, regardless of their placement on the upper or lower gum line.

Tongue piercing types chart

To help you better understand the different types of tongue piercings, we’ve created this handy chart. It outlines the names, placements, costs, pain levels, and recommended jewelry for each style. Keep in mind that costs and pain levels may vary depending on the piercer and your personal tolerance

Piercing Name Alternative Names Placement Cost Pain Level Healing Time Jewelry
Midline Tongue Piercing Vertical Tongue Piercing Center of the tongue $30 – $80 Medium 4-6 weeks Straight barbell
Double Tongue Piercing Two midline piercings, one in front of the other $60 – $160 Medium 4-6 weeks Straight barbell
Scoop Piercing Surface Tongue Piercing Upper surface of the tongue $40 – $100 High 6-8 weeks Surface barbell
Frog Eye Piercing Venom Piercing Vertically on either side of the tongue tip $60 – $120 Medium 4-6 weeks Straight barbell
Snake Eyes Piercing Horizontal Tongue Piercing Horizontally through the tip of the tongue $40 – $100 High 6-8 weeks Curved barbell
Tongue Web Piercing Frenulum or Marley Piercing Under the tongue $40 – $90 Low 4-6 weeks Curved barbell, captive bead ring or circular barbell
Frowny Piercing Inverse Smiley, Frowning Piercing Lower frenulum $30 – $80 Low 6-8 weeks Captive bead ring or small curved barbell
Smiley Piercing Upper Lip Frenulum Piercing Upper lip frenulum $30 – $80 Low 4-6 weeks Captive bead ring or small curved barbell
Uvula Piercing Uvula at the back of the throat $60 – $120 High 6-8 weeks Straight or curved barbell
Gum Piercing Lower or upper gum line $50 – $150 High 6-8 weeks Small curved barbell or micro dermal anchor

Tongue piercing Healing Process

Tongue piercings typically heal within a month or so. The healing process can be challenging, especially during the first week. Swelling and speech difficulties are common, so those who have jobs that require speaking should carefully consider this before getting a tongue piercing. It’s advised to downsize the barbell after one and a half to two weeks.

One common issue with tongue piercings is playing with the barbell, leading to enamel erosion and other dental problems. If you find yourself constantly playing with your piercing, consider removing it. Make sure to regularly check and tighten the beads, as they can become loose and cause chipped teeth.

The tongue comprises two muscles, and when pierced, the needle goes between them. This causes the tongue to swell considerably in the first few days after the piercing. Swelling usually peaks on the second or third day and then gradually subsides. By the end of the first week, some swelling may remain, possibly extending into the second week. However, by the third week, the tongue should begin returning to its original size, and by the fourth week, it should be fully healed.

Essential Tongue Piercing Aftercare Guidelines

Aftercare is crucial for a successful tongue piercing. Here are some helpful tips to ensure proper healing and avoid complications:

  • Maintain oral hygiene: To prevent infections, cleanse your mouth gently but consistently. Avoid strong cleansers like alcohol-based mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide. Rinse your mouth 3-6 times daily, especially after meals, with a specialized mouthwash like Recovery Oral Rinse or a homemade sea salt solution. Continue to brush your teeth gently and floss daily.
  • Eat soft, mild foods during the first week: Choose soft foods like soup, yogurt, mac and cheese, and avoid hard, sticky, spicy, acidic, and hot-temperature foods that may irritate your piercing. Cold foods and drinks can help soothe swelling.
  • Don’t share food or utensils: Avoid sharing food items or utensils with others to minimize the risk of introducing bacteria to your piercing.
  • Address swelling promptly: If your tongue swells severely, let ice chips dissolve slowly in your mouth to reduce swelling. Other ways to manage swelling include taking ibuprofen, sleeping with your head elevated, and minimizing talking.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking dries out your mouth and increases the risk of infection. If quitting completely is not possible, consider using e-cigarettes as a temporary substitute.
  • Avoid other people’s bacteria: During the healing process, refrain from sharing drinks or food, open-mouth kissing, oral sex, and chewing on foreign objects like pen caps. Rinse your mouth with a sea salt solution if you accidentally introduce bacteria.
  • Stay healthy: Support your body’s healing process by getting enough sleep, eating nutritiously, avoiding alcohol, tobacco, recreational drugs, aspirin, and stress, and practicing good hygiene. Consider taking extra vitamin C and a multivitamin containing zinc, iron, and B vitamins.
  • Don’t play with your jewelry: Resist the temptation to touch or play with your new tongue ring, as it may lead to chipped teeth, jewelry migration, excess scar tissue, or increased infection risk.
  • Don’t change your jewelry too soon: Wait 4-6 weeks before changing your jewelry, unless you have an allergic reaction or the barbell is too short. When changing your jewelry, opt for an internally-threaded tongue ring that’s comfortable to wear.
  • Respond quickly to signs of infection: If you notice symptoms like thick yellowish pus, fever, or other signs of infection, contact your doctor or dentist immediately. They may prescribe antibiotics, and it’s important to continue proper aftercare while taking the medication.

Navigating Daily Activities with a Tongue Piercing

Smoking with a Tongue Piercing

While it’s not recommended to smoke with a fresh tongue piercing, as it can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of infection, some people still choose to do so. If you must smoke, follow these tips to minimize potential complications:

  • Rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash or saltwater solution immediately after smoking.
  • Keep your smoking frequency to a minimum, especially during the first few weeks of healing.
  • Maintain excellent oral hygiene and adhere to the aftercare instructions provided by your piercer.

Tips for Eating with a Tongue Piercing

Eating with a new tongue piercing can be challenging at first. Here are some helpful tips to make the process easier and more comfortable:

  • Start with soft, easy-to-eat foods like yogurt, applesauce, or mashed potatoes to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your healing piercing.
  • Cut food into small pieces to make chewing more manageable.
  • Avoid hot, spicy, and acidic foods, as they can irritate the piercing and prolong the healing process.
  • Be cautious when eating foods that may get caught on your jewelry, such as noodles or stringy vegetables.
  • Drink cold beverages or suck on ice chips to help reduce swelling and provide relief while eating.
  • Eat slowly and carefully, paying close attention to your chewing to avoid biting down on the jewelry.


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Tongue piercing jewelry

For tongue piercings, the most common jewelry types are straight barbells, curved barbells, captive bead rings, and surface barbells, depending on the specific piercing style. However, barbells are the go-to choice for tongue piercings. They come in various colors and can even have gems added to the top. During the healing process, choose a barbell that’s slightly longer than necessary and downsize to a shorter post once healed to avoid potential harm to teeth and gums.

  • Straight Barbells

Straight barbells are the most popular choice for tongue piercings, particularly for midline and double tongue piercings. They consist of a straight metal rod with balls or other decorative ends that screw on. The length and thickness of the barbell can vary depending on the individual’s anatomy and preferences, but a typical size for a healed tongue piercing is 14G (gauge) and 5/8″ (16mm) long. Straight barbells are popular because they allow for comfortable movement and accommodate tongue swelling during the healing process.

  • Curved Barbells

Curved barbells are similar to straight barbells but feature a curved shape. They’re typically used for snake eyes, frog eyes, and frenulum piercings, where the curvature of the barbell accommodates the natural shape of the tongue or frenulum. Curved barbells can also help reduce the risk of damage to teeth and gums. Standard sizes for curved barbells in tongue piercings are usually 14G and 7/16″ (11mm) to 5/8″ (16mm) long.

  • Captive Bead Rings

Captive bead rings (CBRs) are circular metal rings with a small bead or ball that holds the ring closed. They’re less commonly used for tongue piercings but can be suitable for frenulum piercings, where they provide a comfortable and secure fit. CBRs for tongue piercings are typically 14G or 16G and can range in diameter from 3/8″ (10mm) to 1/2″ (13mm) depending on individual anatomy and personal preferences.

  • Surface Barbells

Surface barbells, also known as surface anchors or surface bars, are specifically designed for surface piercings like scoop piercings. These barbells have a flat, horizontal base with two short, perpendicular posts that hold the decorative ends. The unique design helps minimize the risk of rejection associated with surface piercings. Standard sizes for surface barbells in tongue piercings are 14G or 16G, with the length varying based on the specific placement and individual anatomy.

Choosing the Right Jewelry Material

When selecting jewelry for your tongue piercing, consider the following materials:

  • Implant Grade Surgical Stainless Steel: This material is durable and hypoallergenic, making it a safe option for most people.
  • Titanium: Titanium is lightweight, strong, and hypoallergenic, making it a popular choice for those with sensitive skin or metal allergies.
  • Solid Gold: Gold is a classic choice that is less likely to cause irritation. However, it’s essential to choose solid gold (14k or higher) rather than gold-plated options.
  • Dental Acrylic: This material is lightweight and less likely to cause damage to your teeth. It’s a suitable alternative for those who prefer a non-metallic option.

How much is a tongue piercing?

The cost of a tongue piercing can vary depending on various factors such as your location, the piercer or shop you choose, and the specific type of tongue piercing you want. Generally, tongue piercings can range from $35 to $100.

Keep in mind that there are typically two charges involved in getting a tongue piercing: the actual piercing service and the jewelry. It’s important to invest in high-quality jewelry for your piercing, so be prepared to pay a reasonable price for it.

It’s always a good idea to research different piercing shops and piercers in your area to compare prices and find a reputable professional. Remember, quality and safety should be your top priorities when choosing a piercer, rather than simply going for the cheapest option.

What is the safest tongue piercing?

The midline tongue piercing is considered the safest option. This classic piercing is placed vertically through the center of the tongue and is the most common type. Since professional piercers are most familiar with this style, it generally has a lower risk of complications compared to other tongue piercings. However, it’s always essential to find a reputable and experienced piercer to ensure the procedure is done safely and accurately.

Where is the right spot to pierce your tongue?

The ideal spot for a tongue piercing varies depending on the specific style you choose. For a midline tongue piercing, it’s typically positioned about half an inch to three-quarters of an inch back from the tip, vertically through the center of the tongue. For other types of tongue piercings, the placement will differ. A professional piercer will be able to assess your anatomy and determine the best location for your chosen piercing style while minimizing risks and ensuring proper healing.


What does a tongue piercing mean sexually?

A tongue piercing does not inherently carry a specific sexual meaning. People get tongue piercings for various reasons, such as self-expression or personal style. It’s essential not to make assumptions about someone’s sexual preferences based on their piercings.

How long does it take a tongue piercing to close?

Tongue piercings can close relatively quickly, sometimes within a few hours, due to the tongue’s rapid healing ability. The exact time may vary depending on the individual and how long they’ve had the piercing. If you want to keep your piercing open, avoid leaving the jewelry out for extended periods.

Can you chew gum with a tongue piercing?

Yes, you can chew gum with a tongue piercing, but it’s best to wait until your piercing has fully healed before doing so. During the healing process, it’s essential to avoid chewing gum as it can introduce bacteria into the piercing area, increase the risk of infection, and potentially cause trauma to the fresh piercing. Once your tongue piercing has completely healed, you can chew gum, but be cautious not to accidentally bite down on the jewelry, as this may cause damage to your teeth or the piercing itself.

How long does tongue piercing take to heal?

A tongue piercing typically takes about 4 to 8 weeks to heal completely depending on the types of tongue piercing you choose. However, the initial swelling usually subsides within the first 1-2 weeks. Always follow proper aftercare instructions for the best healing results.

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