Tongue Piercings: Every Question You Have, Answered

Thinking of getting a tongue piercing? Here's everything you need to know from how much a tongue piercing costs to the pain factor...

Celebrity Tongue Piercings

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

If you thought 90’s trend revivals were only about fashion, think again - it's all about piercings. In particular, earring stacking, daith piercings and septum piercings are having a moment. Now it turns out tongue piercings are also back - so to all you guys with tongue piercings already, congrats - and despite all of the horror stories your mum would tell you back in the day, we're here to set the record straight. So if you're on-the-fence about getting your tongue pierced, we've answered all the questions you might have, from how much a tongue piercing costs to aftercare and the pain factor. Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about tongue piercings...

What is a tongue piercing?

It may sound obvious, but there are actually certain variations of the piercing.

'A tongue piercing is a type of oral piercing that involves inserting a needle though the tongue, often between the two soft muscles and inserting jewellery, typically a barbell,' explains Ruth, Owner and Piercer at House of Iris. 'The piercing is usually placed vertically through the centre of the tongue. However, there are a couple of variations in placement, such as angled or multiple piercings.'

Tongue piercing variations:

Venom tongue piercing: 'Two piercings next to each other side to side, similar to a traditional tongue piercing, these ones pass through the soft muscle though.'

Multiple tongue piercings: 'These are placed along the centre, exactly the same as a traditional piercing, except there's just more of them. Although these piercings can be done at the same time, they are typically they're added too at a later date.

Surface tongue piercing: 'There's also a surface tongue piercing, however no good piercer should be performing this,' explains Ruth. 'This pierces the soft muscles together and can cause speech impediments and gum erosion amongst other things. This type of piercing is also prone to rejection and migration.'

Pain and healing

Do tongue piercings hurt? How long do they take to heal? 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.

'Tongue piercing is one of the least painful piercing there is,' explains Ruth. 'This is because the tongue contains fewer pain receptors (nociceptors) compared to other parts of the body. Additionally, the placement of the piercing is usually between or through muscle tissue, which results in less sensation of pain compared to piercings through skin or cartilage. When performed by a professional piercer, using proper techniques and equipment the piercing is very quick, and tolerable for most people.'

The most uncomfortable part? It's actually the healing process. 'For the first few days after having it done, the tongue will swell and it can be a little uncomfortable to eat,' explains Ruth.

'Cold drinks, crushed ice and anti-inflammatory’s (if you are able to take them) will help with initial swelling and inflammation,' adds Saoirse Flynn Services Manager at Metal Morphosis. 'Essentially, plan your tongue piercing around what will be needed to ensure best healing.'


How much does a tongue piercing cost?

The million-dollar question, or rather the £35-40 question depending on whether you want standard titanium or Teflon coated titanium. Prices will vary depending on what piercing you go for, but those are the average figures. Unless you want like a Swarovski crystal in your mouth, then that might be a bit extra.

How to change out your tongue piercing

How can you change a tongue piercing out? 'Tongue piercings are fairly easy to change,' reassures Ruth. 'Usually they're pierced with a barbell which both the end balls can unscrew from. Sometimes they can be tight so may need to changed by a professional piercer. If in doubt always head to your local reputable piercer.'

'It is advised while the piercing is relatively new to change your jewellery efficiently, as it can close over quickly,' adds Saoirse.

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. 'It's helpful to remember that these piercings are totally anatomy dependent, meaning not everyone can have them done due to issues like tongue tie and vein locations,' says Saoirse.

How old do you have to be to get your tongue pierced?

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 piercers 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.

How quickly will a tongue piercing close?

The tongue heals faster than most other body parts, so when you remove the piercing the hole 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.

Made with Surgical Steel, these cute heart shaped bars make for the perfect stud.

Can I pierce my own tongue?

You can, but its highly advisable not to. Having a hole in your body and jewellery in your mouth is one of those occasionsyou just shouldn’t scrimp 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? A tongue stud?

'Tongue piercings are usually done with a 16 -18mm by 1.6mm straight barbell,' explains Saoirse. '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.'

'Wonderful quality, I am very happy it arrived in a sterile packaging!' said one reviewer.

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 engaging 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. So, you guys with a brand new tongue piercing, be sensible and vigilant.

How do I clean my tongue piercing?

'Technically this relatively straight forward,' explains Saoirse. 'You should rinse your mouth with diluted antibacterial alcohol-free mouthwash after meals and morning and evening. During your healing period it is very important to avoid alcohol, smoking, vaping or becoming very dehydrated. We also recommend avoiding hot drinks, very hot food and oral contact with other people in the initial healing period. Also, avoid chewing or playing with your jewellery can delay healing.'

Are tongue piercings hard to remove and put back in?

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 to kiss, or give/receive oral with a tongue piercing?

The most common difference between kissing with a tongue piercing is the addition of something cold into an otherwise warm situation. 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”. 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.

A frog?! Adorable.

Will people assume you're ‘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!!’

Do tongue piercings 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

It's giving Spice Girls

Will the piercing corrode when drinking 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.

Tongue piercings and infection

Do tongue piercings 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.

'There are some normal side effects of having a tongue piercing,' explains Ruth. 'Expect localised swelling, some bleeding, sometimes there's some bruising too and extra sensitivity and obviously a little discomfort. All of these things subside usually after a few days but if you're concerned please seek the advice of your piercer.'

What happens if you swallow your tongue piercing?

Mouth jewellery, of course, can be a choking hazard. Since you have to sleep with your tongue piercing in (to prevent it closing up) the ring could potentially 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 leave 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. Yikes. It goes without saying though, both are fairly rare.

Can you hide a tongue piercing?

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.

A simple gold barbell.

What can you 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.

Metal Morphosis are a widely renowned piercing brand, specialising in body piercing, hypoallergenic jewellery, ear curations and trouble shooting. They currently have two stores in London (Carnaby Street & Hackney) and are due to open their third store and flagship in Covent Garden, this spring


Georgia Aspinall is features editor at Grazia UK and writes regularly about sex and relationships. She has investigated all of the best sex positions, sex toys and speaks to women regularly about the realities of their sex lives now

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