You may already know of the most popular type of tongue piercing – straight through the tongue, but there are many more. If you’re deciding which type of tongue piercing you should get, this post will help you decide.
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7 Common Types of Tongue Piercings
Here are the seven most popular types of tongue piercings. We’ve also included pain levels and healing times for each type and which kinds of people may like them best.
The midline piercing is the most common and best-known tongue piercing. The tongue is pierced straight through the middle connective tissue or lingual septum. A 14-gauge straight barbell is often the jewelry of choice, and you can switch out the beads for one with gems or a flat top.
Typically, the piercer uses a longer post to accommodate swelling. After the swelling goes down, you can switch out the bar for a shorter one.
Some people say they feel nothing when they get this piercing, but pain can be about a 3 or 4 out of 10 for most people. Biting your tongue with a midline piercing might hurt even more! The healing process is a little bit more intense. Swelling lasts about a week, and it might take a month or two for the piercing to heal fully.
This piercing is an excellent option if you work a job without much speech because in the initial few weeks, speaking will be hard for you.
Side Tongue Piercing
Where the midline piercing goes through the middle, side piercings stay on either side of it. People use either a straight barbell or a ring for this piercing.
Once again, the pain level varies depending on the person. Most people rank this anywhere between 3 and 5 out of 10. It might hurt a bit more because the needle goes through the muscle, but most people find the swelling period worse. Thankfully, that lasts about a week or, in bad cases, two weeks.
This piercing is sometimes called “frog eyes” piercing because it sits on top of the tongue. If a single side tongue piercing doesn’t do it for you, this might be more your speed. For the venom piercing, you pierce both sides of your tongue. In rare cases, people might make two piercings along the midline, one in front of the other, but this usually isn’t referred to as a venom piercing.
💡 Double straight barbells are the common jewelry choice for this. The piercer uses longer barbells while piercing to accommodate swelling. But as with midline piercings, you should switch them out for shorter options after a while to lower the risk of gum and teeth erosion.
The pain level is slightly higher than midline or side tongue piercings. The first piercing might not hurt as much, but the pain of the second is a bit more intense. Out of 10, the pain rating is at least a 5. Swelling follows and can last up to two weeks, impeding your ability to eat and talk. If you’re someone who loves a good challenge, this is the piercing for you. It’s relatively novel and is bound to make you stand out.
Scoop Tongue Piercing
Also called a surface tongue piercing, the scoop piercing doesn’t go through the tongue vertically or horizontally. The needle goes in through one side of the tongue and out the other. Curved barbells are the jewelry of choice for this piercing.
This piercing is either done front-to-back or side-to-side. It connects the two muscles of the tongue when going side-to-side and has a high rejection rate when going front-to-back.
The pain is about 4 out of 10. For many people, biting your tongue while eating is more painful. The healing process is about four to eight weeks, but it can extend if there are complications.
This piercing is somewhat controversial because it links both tongue muscles. If you like the unique look of a scoop piercing and don’t mind a bit of risk, it might be the piercing for you.
Snake Eyes Piercing
The snake eyes piercing is close to the tip of the tongue and passes through it horizontally. The piercer uses a curved barbell. It gets its name from how the barbell beads look at the tongue tip.
Pain perception is different, and the ratings go anywhere from a 2 to 5 on a 10-point scale. Most people will agree it’s at least a 4, though. It can hurt some more while it heals.
This piercing is another highly controversial one, perhaps even more so than the scoop. It links the two muscles of the tongue, can affect proper speech, and even damage the teeth and gums. It’s the perfect piercing for anyone who isn’t afraid to take risks.
Tongue Frenulum Piercing
The tongue frenulum holds the tongue to the base of the mouth. It’s also called the frenulum linguae or tongue web. For this piercing, the needle will penetrate that thin membrane. People use rings, curved, or straight barbells for this.
An advantage to this is that it’s a body part that’s well hidden. If you like a bit of mischief and also have a frenulum thick enough to carry the piercing, it might be the piercing for you. People only need to know you have it when you want them to.
The pain for this is on the low side, with most people ranking it as entirely painless. We rate it a 2 out of 10 because some people report feeling a lot of pain getting it pierced. It heals between four and eight weeks, and swelling is minimal.
Multiple Tongue Piercings
You can also get your tongue pierced in multiple places. You can combine a scoop with a midline or add a tongue ring at the edge in conjunction with venoms. Or you can do whatever feels comfortable. The possibilities are endless.
The pain for this varies with each piercing you get. Getting consecutive piercings without spacing hurts more, and we don’t recommend it. Make sure your old piercings have healed before getting a new one.
If you’re a bit of a piercing junkie, getting multiple piercings (well-spaced) will be right up your alley.
Our 8 Important Tips for Safe Tongue Piercing
Every piercing (even piercing a baby’s ears) comes with a certain level of risk. However, proper aftercare and good piercing practices can improve any piercing experience — for all types of tongue piercings. Here are our top tips for safe tongue piercings.
1. Choose a reputable piercer
The tongue has multiple blood vessels, and an inexperienced piercer can nick them. A more experienced piercer is also better equipped to let you know if your tongue’s anatomy can handle the piercing.
2. Clean your mouth thoroughly before the piercing
The piercer should provide you with an antiseptic mouthwash to rinse all bacteria. Also, check that the piercer is gloved and that the needle provided is fresh.
3. Get a long enough barbell to accommodate swelling
The tongue is bound to swell when pierced, and a short barbell will cause problems in the healing process. Always remember to switch out the barbell when the swelling goes down. If the post remains too long, it can drag along in your mouth and risk affecting your teeth and gums.
4. Stick to soft foods and liquids after the piercing
The swelling will make it challenging to eat as you usually would for the first few days. Lots of ice water and cold drinks will also aid in calming the swelling.
5. Keep your mouth clean after the piercing
Get a new toothbrush and brush your teeth after every meal. Rinse your mouth with a solution of non-iodized salt whenever you eat or drink anything that isn’t water. Using a mouthwash will also remove most bacteria. But because the alcohol in most mouthwashes will irritate the piercing, it’s best to pick an alcohol-free one
6. Avoid alcohol, acidic food and drink, and smoking
All these can irritate the piercing and affect healing. Alcohol also numbs your mouth and tongue, preventing you from detecting any additional injuries or possible piercing infections.
7. Avoid all oral sexual activity
Kissing, oral sex, and even sharing eating utensils are off the table until your piercing heals.
8. Watch your piercing
Observe your piercing closely for any unfavorable changes. If there’s pus, excessive redness or discoloration, or an unpleasant smell, visit a medical professional. Also, if you think your piercings are hurting your teeth, switch to smaller barbells or take the piercings out entirely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most popular questions about types of tongue piercings.
What is the safest type of tongue piercing?
A midline tongue piercing is your safest bet. It has the lowest chance of knocking barbells into your teeth and damaging the gums. Because of its position, it’s also unlikely that the piercing will hit any blood vessels.
What kind of tongue can’t be pierced?
Short tongues and tongues with blood vessels in an unusual position are usually hard to pierce. The length of the tongue makes it tricky to hold it with forceps while piercing adequately. Besides that, piercers also can’t pierce tongues with webbing that extends far up the tongue. If a needle goes through it, that can cause swelling and lots of bleeding.
What does a tongue piercing symbolize?
Mayans and Aztecs used to pierce their tongues for religious purposes in the past. Nowadays, anyone can get different types of tongue piercings. The meaning varies depending on who you are, but it’s simply a means of expression for most people.
Which type of tongue piercing is for you?
We’ve laid out the different types of tongue piercings available, and now you have the chance to pick one. For most piercing lovers, tongue piercings are the least painful piercings they’ve ever gotten, but they admit the swelling can be bothersome. It may be hard to eat and speak, and in rare cases, rejection can occur. But if you get the desired result, it’s usually worth it.
Visit an experienced piercer and comply with all necessary aftercare for best results. The pain will last a few days, but it’s bound to heal.
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