Tongue Piercing Jewelry
This section covers the choice of jewelry which is best for Tongue Piercings. Which due to it's placement can be rather limited on choose of style, gauge and size of jewelry.
Jewelry Style & Material:
When it comes to Tongue piercings it's important to consider that the tongue expands and contracts while you are talking and eating. So the jewelry needs to be long enough to allow for this. However it does need to be short enough to reduce contact with gums, teeth and the bones in your mouth. Also the jewelry should not have sharp edges, points or items hanging off the jewelry that might increase contact with the teeth, gums or the roof and bottom of your mouth. The best option is a barbell with rounded ends. The Material should be body friendly and solid, not filled or plated. Common materials are Implant Grade Steel, Titanium, 14kt or better Gold and acrylic. Both Gold and Acrylic have the advantage of being softer than your teeth and thus reducing your risks to chipping teeth. However, neither are as durable as steel or titanium and will need to be check and replaced when they become damaged.
As an alternative to the standard barbell a labret style disc can be worn on the bottom to reduce contact with the bottom of your mouth. Also the flater No-See-Ums can be worn on the top to reduce how visitable the jewelry is. They are a flesh colored acrylic end that with a dimpled surface like the tongue.
- Jewelry that should be avoided during and after Healing:
- Jewelry with ends that are sharp or have complicated shaped designs
- Jewelry with ends that have items like rings, or charms attached to them.
- Any jewelry with ends that are not smooth to the touch like jeweled tops.
- Jewelry that isn't secure like those that use O-rings or push pins. Always use threaded jewelry for long term wear.
- Novelty jewelry that glow in the dark or have batteries shouldn't be used for long term wear.
- Captive Bead Rings and other circular jewelry:
Due to the placement of most tongue piercing, which are done as far back and centered as posible to reduce damage to teeth, gums and bones, you would need a very large ring to fit the piercing and wrap around the edge of the tongue. This will make eating and talking a nightmare. Also the tongue is mostly muscle and expands and contracts during speech and moving food around in your mouth. So the jewelry must be big enough to allow for this or it may cause tearing and migration.
Sometimes tongue piercings are done on the outside edges of the tongue with a ring. In most cases the jewelry maybe more suitable for the placement but I wouldn't advise piercing the edges of your tongue in the first place because of the added risk of causing damage to teeth and gums.
- Ear Piercing Studs and other traditional jewelry:
The jewelry is often too short to allow for the thickness of piercing area. Which doesn't allow for swelling and can cause the jewelry to be impacted into the piercing. Also if the jewelry is too tight it can block both discharge and the flow of oxygen that can increase healing time and/or increase risk to infection or other problems.
The backs or locks are lose and can tighten with normal wear.
Often the jewelry material is not body friendly. Even those that are marketed to those with sensitivity to metal are only plated.
In most cases can not be sterilized correctly.
Size of the Jewelry and Weight:
As a refresher gauge is the thickness of the wire that the jewelry is made out of. Body piercing jewelry generally starts at 18 gauge jewelry and goes up to 0000 gauge jewelry. The smaller the number the thicker the jewelry will be. As I'm sure you know, the thicker the jewelry is the more weight and thus the more stress on the piercing during the healing period. Also the thicker the jewelry the more tissue that needs to be produce and thus the longer the healing period. Though in most cases a 18 gauge piercing will heal out in about the same time as a 12 gauge piercing will.
When choosing the gauge of the jewelry, the jewelry needs to be thick enough to reduce rejection or migration and have resistance to tearing but light enough that it will not cause added stress during healing. Due to the location of the conch piercing there very limited chances of rejection or migration. Due to the softness of the tongue the jewelry should never be thinner than 14g to avoid migration and tearing of the piercing. The tongue is one of the fastest healing piercing there is and can usually be stretched to a larger gauge rather quickly. Often the larger gauges will feel more comfortable, especially when subjected to abuse but since the balls will have to be larger to fit the thickness of the post, the overall length will increase the larger you go.
Swelling is a huge factor in healing a tongue piercing. Depending on the piercee's diet the tongue can swell as much as 1/2 inch and stay swollen for up to 5 days. When choosing the correct length to pierce a tongue, the thickness and shape of the tongue needed to be considered but also the piercee needs to be asked if they smoke and about their diet. Someone that smokes will see more swelling and the swelling will usually last longer. If this is a habit, even with the best client, it's safe to say that they are going to smoke regardless of what they say. If the piercing swells beyond the length of the jewelry it can be very painful, increases the risk of scarring and the jewelry impacting into the tissue and may need to be removed. It is better to have the jewelry too long during the swelling phase than too short.
I can not stress enough how important it is to reduce the length of the Barbell as soon as possible. I suggest that you change to a shorter barbell in a week to 10 days after the piercing was done and to reduce the risk of losing the piercing or dislodge the piercing that you have your piercer change the jewerly for you. Since the tongue can almost double in size when it is extended, the jewelry shouldn't be tight. It should be loose but not so long that it touchs the top and bottom of your mouth when your mouth is closed. The most common size is 5/8 of an inch but if you have a small mouth or a larger tongue you may need a shorter size or consider wearing a labret disc on the bottom. When in doubt see your piercer and ask them what size is best for you. Also consider that some styles of barbells have larger balls than others. Though you may like the way the other barbell looks, a barbell with smaller balls maybe a better choice for you.
In conclusion, nothing replaces the first hand knowledge of a professional piercer when it comes to choosing the correct jewelry. There is vast differences in shape and size and often what works for 99.99% of the public is not the best choice for you. The goal of this is to give you a working understand of jewelry selection, so that you can have an educated discussion with your piercer on what will work best. Every piercer understands that one of the motivations of you getting the piercing is fashion but jewelry that will produce the best out come should always rule out fashion. Think of the jewelry that the piercing is done with as trainer jewelry that will be replaced with what you like after the piercing is healed.