Tongue piercing: Types, Positions, Jewelry & Aftercare

Tongue piercing often referred as oral piercing, is a type of piercing usually done directly through the center of the tongue. It penetrates the tongue from one side to the other.

It is also one of the most popular styles of body piercing.

Tongue piercing

Tongue piercing positions / sites:

Mid-line tongue piercing:

This piercing is done along the mid-line of the tongue. It is the most common and traditional placement for a tongue piercing. It lies somewhere around 1.9 cm away from the tip of the tongue.

Tongue piercing

Frenulum linguae piercing :

Piercing done through the frenulum underneath the tongue.

Frenulum linguae piercing

Tongue web piercing:

Two tongue piercing placed side by side on the tongue.

Tongue web piercing

Horizontal tongue piercing:

Piercing done horizontally on the tongue. It is very risky and never recommended as it causes severe nerve damage.

Horizontal tongue piercing

Side tongue piercing:

Piercing done on either side of the tongue.

Alignment of the jewelry:

Alignment of the jewelry and your teeth is a very important factor not to be overlooked. Make sure that the piercing is done away from the tip of the tongue at a distance that does not allow constant contact of the jewelry with the backs of the teeth. Constant rubbing of the jewelry with the teeth is known to wear off the tooth enamel.

Piercing done near the tip, effects your speech.

Tongue piercing healing:

Tongue piercing heals faster than many other piercing. It takes around 4 – 6 weeks for the tongue piercing to heal completely. Oral piercing heals faster because the saliva in the mouth has the capability to fight many infections and bacteria.

Getting prepared:

  • Now that you have made up your mind of getting a tongue piercing done, you should start with looking for salons specialised in oral piercing. Look around, talk to people who have got the piercing done, share their experiences and then finally fix up an appointment.
  • It is advisable to get a tongue piercing done by a doctor in a clinic. Make sure the salon / clinic you have chosen is hygienic. The instruments used for piercing are sterilized and the salon / clinic itself is neat and clean.
  • Eat lots of food prior to you appointment as you will not be able to eat solid food for at least 2-3 days after having your piercing. Carry some cold juice and ice cubes to the clinic to have immediately after the piercing. This will help to bring down the swelling.
  • Do not carry your own tongue piercing barbell. The barbell required is longer than the average one you will buy. The long barbell allows room for the tongue to swell. Once the swelling has gone, you can get the barbell changed by the piercer.

How is a tongue piercing done?

Depending on the position you wish to have the piercing, the process may vary slightly. Now, we will discuss how a tongue is pierced along the mid-line.

piercing tongue (2)

Piercing tongue

  • It is very important to clean the mouth properly with a mouthwash just before piercing process.
  • The piercer will make a small mark on the placement site of the tongue. Marking allows right placement of the jewel
  • He will then measure the tongue thickness using a little tool. The measurement helps in choosing the jewelry of right length, which can help accommodate the initial tongue swelling.
  • The piercer will pull your tongue away from your mouth without it slipping accidentally and will hold it tightly with the help of forceps and clamp. It allows aligning the needle properly on the mark.
  • The piercer then lines up the needle at right angle from the tongue and pushes the needle through.
  • Finally, the jewelry is placed at the end of the piercing needle and guilded through the piercing.
  • Your tongue piercing is done.

Tongue piercing infections / risks:

Tongue piercing

Tooth damage:

  • Tooth damage is likely to occur due to the constant rubbing of the jewelry to the teeth, this causes wear out of teeth enamel.

Nerve damage:

  • If the piercing is not done properly, it can damage some of the nerves running along the tissue.


  • Oral infections are less common because the mouth itself fights away many infections and bacteria, however, not cleaning you mouth properly or putting dirty things in your mouth can invite infections. Symptoms include pain, increased redness and an increase in the amount and thickness of the discharge, usually yellow, green or gray in color. It is advised to see a doctor in this case.


  • Piercing done with un-sterilized needle or instruments, in unhygienic environment invite diseases like Hepatitis and Aids. The virus can also penetrate the piercing that has not healed. It is therefore, important to get the piercing done with a professional and make sure that the piercing heals within 4-6 weeks.

Taste and speech:

  • Different parts of the tongue are sensitive to different tastes; some people find that a piercing affects their sense of taste. A tongue piercing can also cause slight difficulty in speaking clearly.

Tongue piercing aftercare:

  • For the first few days of your piercing, you will experience excessive tongue swelling. Your tongue may swell up to 2 times its original size causing discomfort. You may not be able to eat solid food. It is therefore, recommended to drink lots of cold beverages and suck ice cubes. These help to reduce the swelling.
  • If you are not able to breathe properly, or feel extremely uncomfortable, consult a doctor immediately.
  • Milkshakes, juices and ice-cream not only reduce the swelling, but also are rich in high-calorie. These will keep your energy levels high. Avoid anything hot and spicy.
  • Rinse your mouth frequently with saline water. Avoid iodised salt as the iodine slows the healing process. Use a disinfectant mouthwash after every meal.
  • Wash your hands properly before touching the jewelry.
  • Clean your jewelry with a new soft tooth brush.
  • Vitamin C and zinc promotes healing. Have food rich in these vitamins and minerals.

Tongue piercing jewelry:


Internally threaded barbells cause less damage while changing the jewelry. These are therefore, most commonly used. There are different ranges of barbells available.

Tongue rings

Captured bead rings:

Rings can be worn at the side tongue piercing. However, it is not recommended as a first tongue piercing jewelry.

Tongue rings


A 14 gauge or heavier jewelry should be used as the ones with smaller gauges will migrate out through the tongue causing discomfort to the wearer.

The initial jewelry (barbell) length should be 16mm to 22 mm, so that it allows space for swelling. Once the swelling has gone, the jewelry can be replaced by a barbell 11mm to 16mm in length.


Titanium, niobium, 18 carat gold and surgical stainless steel are the materials suitable for tongue jewelry.

Tongue rings