Tongue Piercings: Every Question You Have, Answered
The Debrief: Thinking of getting a tongue piercing? Here's everything you need to know.
Remember back in school when every popular kid had a tongue piercing and you were just that boring, ear-pierced nerd whose parents would never let them be so cool? Well apparently, that still happens today because tongue piercings are actually still a thing. What, did you think all of those 90’s trend revivals were only about fashion? Think again. Despite all of the horror stories your mum would tell you when you would beg and beg, the 90’s are back and that means so are tongue piercings. And we’re here to help all you on-the-fencers take the plunge by answering all the questions you might have. Sorry, mums of today, but we’re debunking (but also proving) some of the lies you told us as kids…
How much does it cost?
The million-dollar question, or rather the £25-30 question depending on whether you want standard titanium or Teflon coated titanium. Prices will vary depending on what piercing you go to, but those are the average figures. Unless you want like a Swarovski crystal in your mouth, then that might be abit extra.
Who can’t get tongue piercings?
If you have a super short tongue and can’t stick it out very far, you may be refused. However, the most common refusal is if you have a vein placed where you want your tongue pierced. This is at the discretion of the piercer, since they’re the ones putting a hole near your vein. Also, if you have any health conditions that include nerve issues or paralysis you may be refused. All of this is highly dependent on your piercer, if they feel confident they can pierce without risks, then they will.
How old do you have to be to get a tongue piercing?
There is no age limit for tongue piercings, however the British Body Piercing Association has a Code of Practice and Ethics which includes not giving a piercing to anyone under the age of 14. If you’re between 14-16, a parent or guardian must be present. Some piercer’s can refuse to give tongue piercings on their own discretion or the entire parlour may have a higher age limit. So, if you’re on the younger side, check out the limits before you go.
Does it hurt?
Well, obviously, the pain is relative to your own threshold BUT supposedly it’s less painful than biting your tongue- which really isn’t that painful, let’s be honest. Afterwards it will feel uncomfortable for a few days, but you should still be able to eat and speak normally. Saying that, I had a friend who had a frenulum piercing (the webbing that attaches your tongue to your mouth) and despite it looking absolutely fab I could barely understand a word she said until she gave up and took it out the very next day. She most definitely could not eat normally either, and you’re not supposed to engage in oral sex until it’s completely healed- so you have to become a strict receiver for 4-6 weeks.
Does it scar?
The tongue heals faster than most other body parts, so when you remove the piercing the whole will start to close within a few hours. That being said, once it’s closed you may have a small indentation in your tongue if you’ve had the piercing for a few years. The longer you have it, the more likely it is to scar.
Can I pierce myself?
You can, but its highly advisable not to. Having a hole in your body and jewellery in your mouth is one of those occasions you just shouldn’t skimp on. So, choose a quality piercing studio, as they will have the best equipment, qualified piercers and a better choice of jewellery. Also, piercing equipment sold online is rarely what it says on the tin, it may say ‘sterile’ but it’s most likely just been dipped in alcohol and by the time it reaches your door it has been handled by WAY too many people to be a safe, sterile piercer. You also don’t know where to correctly pierce on your tongue to avoid nerve damage, vein puncture or parts that if pierced can cause a speech impediment.
What jewellery should I get?
Piercings are usually done with a 16 -18mm by 1.6mm straight barbell. They should be made from either titanium or surgical steel, so you need to ensure you’re not allergic to either metal. You can choose any colour, but ensure you are not pierced with a short bar or ring. You can get a shorter bar once the swelling has reduced.
What should I avoid doing afterwards?
Avoid hot drinks, alcohol (including alcoholic mouthwash) and paracetamol or aspirin which can increase swelling by thinning the blood. You’ll also have to be careful to prevent bacteria getting into the mouth which means no smoking, kissing, putting your hands in your mouth OR engage in oral sex. You should avoid this for as long as possible, with many websites advising against oral sex for at least 4-6 weeks.
How do I clean it?
It must be cleaned twice a day just as you would brush your teeth. Rinse with warm water and mouthwash, but don’t go too hard on the mouth wash. After eating ensure you rinse your mouth with water and have plenty to drink. Always wash your hands before touching your piercing to avoid infection.
Are they hard to remove and put back it?
Most tongue piercings are removed by unscrewing the back off the underneath of your tongue, which is relatively easy. Screwing them back in should also be hassle free, although not drunk - once I had to screw in my sister’s tongue piercing in the toilet on a drunken night out, we were there for a good hour. The most important thing is to wash your hands beforehand, and don’t take it out for more than an hour or so unless you want to spend hours trying to re-pierce it when the hole starts to close up.
What’s it like when you kiss, or give/receive oral?
The most common difference between kissing with a tongue piercing is the addition of something cold into an otherwise warm situation (ew). The feeling of a cold ball or bar as your kissing can be exciting for some, plus for the pierced person the tugging on your piercing is meant to be like a party for the nerve-endings in your tongue. The most likely thing having a tongue piercing will do is increase the amount of people who want to kiss you, since now you’re a cool rebel with a mysterious tongue they haven’t experienced before.
For oral, this is where I get squeamish. Receiving first, as always: it’s the cold metal ball thing again. The mixture of a warm tongue and a cold piece of metal is a surprising delight for both women and men receiving oral. It also adds pressure and can be somewhat of a tease. However, having scrolled through reddit, the general consensus is that it doesn’t make a hugely significant difference to your partner. So, if you're thinking of getting a tongue piercing purely to improve your tekkers, think again.
Giving, the afterthought: According to an anonymous fella on reddit, “women with tongue rings are generally more enthusiastic about giving head”- I can’t cope with the visual of a woman SUPER EXCITED about giving head. That being said, both men and women may enjoy giving it should they think the piercing has upped their game. But, for the more cautious out there, there is the fear of ripping the tongue or other person’s genitals should you want to be abit more ‘enthusiastic’ as our reddit friend said. The easiest solution for that is to take it slow until your more confident in your piercing, besides it’s not always a rush to the finish line.
Will people assume your ‘up for it’?
THE STIGMA. How do we defeat the dreaded stigma of tongue piercings? There is a definite assumption around tongue piercings that you are telling the world that you’re up for it. The drawing attention to your mouth, the rumour that it improves oral sex, it all adds up to the ridiculous notion that you are somehow more interested in sex because you have a sparkly ring in your mouth.
In fact, tongue piercing originates from ancient tribes who used it to draw blood to regain favour of the gods and create an altered state of consciousness for communication. SO, TAKE THAT creeps, my piercing is an homage to the Gods not your genitals!
Seriously though, if you’re getting more attention for having a tongue piercing it’s up to you to decide whether it’s sexual interest or purely just shiny object intrigue. If all they’re talking to you for is sex then either love it or lash it, it’s your decision. It might be a bone of contention with your family though, you may have to pull out your best emo rebel moves and throw yourself on your bed dramatically because you ‘DON’T CARE WHAT ANYONE THINKS OKAY!!’
Does it ruin your teeth?
Tongue piercings have been linked to receding gums and chipping teeth. Bumping your tongue ring against your teeth continuously can cause the enamel to chip away which exposes the sensitive layer’s underneath. It may also increase the risk of bacterial infections in your mouth and can fracture existing dental work. If you have your piercing for a number of years, the constant pressure against the back of your teeth can cause them to move and create gaps (but this can happen without oral jewellery too). A barbell specifically can irritate the gums and cause gum recession. However, Colgate advises that in order to minimise dental damage, choose smaller jewellery once the swelling has gone down (you may need a bigger one at first so it doesn’t get swallowed by your swollenness) and ensure the ball on the underside of your tongue is ever smaller to lower the risk of contact. There is more advice on how to care for your piercing at colgate.com.
Does it corrode when drink your gin in a tin?
There is no evidence to suggest alcohol will corrode your piercing, but you’re not meant to drink for at least four weeks after you first get it done as it can disrupt the healing process. After that, drink as much gin as you like, worry free.
Does it get infected easily?
A common misconception of tongue piercings is that they will ALL get infected at some point. Your mouth is a hub of bacteria, but if you look after it correctly and clean it regularly, it’s unlikely to get infected.
What happens if you swallow it?
Mouth jewellery is of course a choking hazard. Since you have to sleep with your tongue piercing in to prevent it closing the ring can unscrew overnight and you could either swallow your tongue ring or it could go down your airways. In scenario one, it most likely will pass through your body and leaves via a bowel movement without any hassle. Of course, there is a chance that the sharper post can cause damage to your digestive system so if you experience any pain after swallowing seek medical attention. In scenario two, you would have to have the jewellery extracted using a bronchoscope or if worse comes to worst possible lung surgery.
Easy to hide?
If you don’t scream, laugh, yawn, apply mascara or try and touch your nose with your tongue. If you plan to do all of those things again, there’s a good chance whoever your hiding it from will see it. If you need to keep it secret for as long as possible, choose a clear or flesh-coloured ball. Keep your head down when you talk and try not to open your mouth too wide if you at some point need to look someone in the eye.
What to eat when you first have it done?
Ever tried the baby food diet? You will do if you get a tongue piercing. The best starting point is liquid food: protein shakes, non-acidic juice, cold non-spicy soups. Once your swelling has reduced you can move on to soft, bland foods like ice cream and jelly- always choose hot over cold since your tongue will be super sensitive. If your dying for some solid food, maybe douse some mash in gravy and wait for it to cool- sounds like the perfect meal to me.
Celebrity Tongue Piercing Inspo
Drew got her piercing for a movie in 2009 but ended up loving it so much that she kept it!
Our fave Spice Girl got her tongue pierced when she was 19, and eventually it became one of her most notable features.
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