Tongue Piercing

Author: By Dr. Manali Thakker, Smile Care

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Tel: 91 -22-26400188 / 83



The frequent movement there is a history of ritual tongue piercing in ancient cultures to honor the gods. Permanent or long term piercing of the tongue is part of the resurgence of body piercing in contemporary society. The tongue is often pierced with straight barbell style jewelry. Due to of the tongue, jewelry size and comfort is especially important. Barbells that are too thin are prone to migration, causing discomfort and irritation. Tongue piercings can often be easily stretched to accommodate larger jewelry. Often the initial piercing is done at 2 mm, stretching a few months later to 2.4 or 3 mm. It is possible to stretch further to diameters beyond 10 mm. The beads at the end of the barbell can be made of many decorative materials, including plastic, but the environment of the mouth can cause cracking and discoloration in the jewelry over time. “No-see-um beads”, flat beads matching the color of the tongue, are sometimes worn to conceal this piercing, often in places of employment.


The placement is marked and a clamp applied. The traditional placement for a tongue piercing is along the midline of the tongue, in the center of the mouth. It is often approximately 0.75 inches (1.9 cm) or so back from the tip of the tongue. Initial jewelry is usually longer than will ultimately be required, to allow for swelling, which is common following the piercing. Piercers often recommend drinking cold beverages and chewing on ice to help reduce the swelling.


Because of the tongue’s exceptional healing ability, piercings can close very fast. Even completely healed holes can close up in a matter of hours, and larger-gauged holes can close in just a few days. The length of time for the hole to heal varies greatly from person to person; some people with larger-gauged holes (greater than 4ga) can still fit jewelry (albeit smaller) in their piercing after months or even years. It is generally recommended to avoid piercing in bodies under development or in people not capable of taking care of a recent piercing. Teens from the age of 16 onwards usually don’t report problems.


The most common long-term complications of intra-oral ornament are :

Poor oral hygiene may lead to serious infections which may even spread to the rest of the body. Infection can cause the tongue to swell, blocking or restricting the airway.
Bacteria under the tongue often spread quickly and can lead, in extreme cases, to the potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome or blood poisoning.
If piercing equipment is not sterilised, there is also the risk of infections like HIV and hepatitis being passed on.
Accidentally biting a tongue stud can cause teeth to crack or damage to fillings and other dental work.
Studs can come loose and can be swallowed or inhaled, leading to breathing problems.
Saliva production is increased.
There may be injury or shrinkage of gums.
There is difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
Prolonged blood loss immediately after procedure.
Possibility of disease transmission, such as hepatitis.
There is also the possibility of a person developing an allergic reaction to a stud if it is not made from gold, titanium or surgical steel.
Other potential dangers include deep cyst formation, scarring, damage to veins and nerves and neuromas – overgrowths of nerve tissue.

Care to be taken:

Do not rinse mouth with any type of mouthwash. This can cause irritation and discoloration to the piercing. Never clean the piercing with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol as this can cause serious injury. Salt water is also an effective rinse. Always rinse tongue after it has been touched or after eating something.
After getting pierced the tongue will swell up to about twice its normal size and lymph will come out from the wound. Do not worry, this is normal. Swelling will start reducing in three to four days and go away completely in seven to eight. The tongue should be fully healed within 6-8 weeks. During those weeks do not play with or touch the tongue.
Avoid eating hot or spicy foods during the healing process, as this may cause discomfort and hinder the healing process. One should only eat small, soft amounts of food like mashed bananas, mashed potatoes, cereal, cold soup, applesauce or rice.
Do not drink alcohol or coffee.
Do not smoke.