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Tongue Piercings Beaten to Death

For this installment of DaVo's Piercing Blog series - Each Piercing Beaten to Death, I decided to finish out the oral piercings and focus on the Tongue Piercing. The Tongue piercing is one of those piercings that seems like it is on every piercing collector's want list. It tends to go through periods of decline and then suddenly it seems like I'm doing nothing but Tongue piercings. It's popularity can be credited to it being one of the fastest healing piercing, is one of the few piercings above the neck that can be concealed and it's reputation as a sexual aid. Though the later like a lot of the misinformation that surrounds the piercing maybe more of about selling the piercing than with reality.

History and Background:

When you talk about the history of Tongue piercings, it becomes kind of a question of what one considers a piercing. If you are looking for a piercing that involves wearing jewelry in through a puncture in the body, than the piercing is completely a modern invention. However, the act of temporally puncturing the tongue, has a long history in the spiritual rituals of a number of cultures throughout the world.

The most known of these being the Aztec, Haida, Kwakiutul, and Maya Cultures of Central and South America where most religious acts involved some form of bloodletting. There are a number of ancient illustration depicting priests puncturing there tongue. The tongue was pierced as a way to appease the gods. However these Mesoamerican cultures are not alone in the spiritual act, Muslin Fakir and Sufis in the Middle East and even Eastern Asian Spiritual Mediums pierced their tongue to proven the depth of the trance like state. Also Australian Aborigine Medicine Men pierced their tongues to cast out evil spirits. The introduction of the act of piercing the tongue could be traced back to the Circus Sideshow Blockhead acts which often copied Fakir acts to gross out and entertain audiences.  These acts would often involve forcing or hammering in sharp objects into the cheek, tongue and nose. Some of these acts would often claim to be trained by Fakirs or in fact to be Fakirs themselves. The sideshow act and tradition had almost died off completely with the death of the Sideshow and big Circus, however it saw a major rebirth with the popularity of Jim Rose's Sideshow in the early 1990s. 

Now the more permanent form of tongue piercing that involves wearing jewelry in the piercing for long periods, is a modern invention. I'm sure there was attempts in the past but I'm sure that what held back the idea was the need for the specialized jewelry that is needed to heal and continue to wear in the piercing. Due to the location the jewelry needs to be secure and still allow for eating and talking. The reality is that underdeveloped cultures would not have the material and technology to make jewelry that would work. Which maybe the main reason why it really didn't come about until the 1980s. At one time in my life I knew the exact date of the publication of the photo of Elayne Angels tongue piercing by Jim Ward in Piercing Fan's Quarterly International. My educated guess would be that this would have been at the end of the 1980s. It's been a while since I thumbed through my copy of Modern Primitives but I believe that the tongue piercing is in there which would date it from before 1989. It would take till 1993 or 1994 to really become mainstream allong with the Alternative movement, peaking around 2000.

Anatomy and Location:

There are risks to getting a tongue piercing and wearing jewelry in your tongue involving doing damage to teeth, gums and the bone structure of the mouth. It is important that the piercing is placed in a way to limit contact with teeth, gums and bones. This is why having the correct anatomy is important. The tongue should be long enough to stick out of the mouth and the lingual frenulum which is the tissue that runs from the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, ends far enough back to allow piercing in front. If the lingual frenulum runs all the way to the tip of the tongue(popularly referred to as being "Tongue Tied"), then there may not be enough room for the jewelry or may force the jewelry to have additional contact with the bottom gums. In some cases the piercing can be done to the side of the lingual frenulum but if you can not stick your tongue out of your mouth, the piercing should not be done or you should consider having a medical procedure done to cut the tissue before getting the piercing done.

The best placement to allow for the least amount of risk for damage is in the midline of the tongue between the two blood vessels that run down the sides of the tongue, just in front of the lingual frenulum. The angle should align with the natural curve of the tongue and shouldn't be at a steep angle which will only increase contact with the bottom gums. If the tongue is long and there is enough room the piercing can be placed far back to reduce risk and be easy to conceal or more forward which increase the risk of contact of the structures in your mouth, will be more visible and more "usable". I general try to go with what I feel will be the furthest from Teeth, gums and bones but if the tongue is really long I may place a little more forward. Also if you are considering additional piercings then the placement may need to be adjusted to make room for further piercing. It is best to bring this up during your consultation with your piercer, multiple tongue piercings may require a different placement and/or jewelry size to work with a piercing that maybe further back than it would be if you were only going to get one piercing. I usually suggest starting with the back piercing first, healing the piercing and then adding additional piercings. Remember that when you do additional piercing, the larger jewelry will be needed in the first piercing to allow for the swelling. So hold on to your starter jewelry.

Placement Urband Legends:

Maybe the most common urban legend about Tongue piercings is that if the piercing is pierced incorrectly, it will cause paralysis. The reality is that the nerves in the tongue are easy to see, off to the sides and easy to avoid. Though it is possible to cause nerve damage, often a piercer with limited knowledge will claim that a piercing can not be done straight or is done off center to avoid damaging nerves. This maybe more to cover their mistake than them avoiding causing problems. However, piercing through the white tendon can be more painful in some cases, it should not cause any additional problems if it is in front of where the tissue connects to the bottom of the tongue and it is not nerve tissue.

Piercing far forward will greatly improve your ability to perform oral sex. Placing the piercing closer to the tip of the tongue may increase the amount of contact the piercing will have with your partner but the truth is that unless you have the skills in the first place it will make little difference but will greatly increase the likelihood of damaging teeth, gum and bones and can possibly effect speech more than a placement further back. The fact is regardless of your oral skills, bad teeth is not going to improve your game. Also it will make the piercing more noticeable which you need to consider if concealment may effect your employment.

Alternative Placements and Groupings:

When it comes to placement groupings of a tongue piercing, it comes down to anatomy, anatomy and then anatomy. The mouth is a tight and crowded area of the body, with a lot of fragile and important tissue, bones and teeth that when in contact with metal will be damaged. Even if the tongue is large enough to add additional piercings to or has the space to do additional piercing outside of the midline, you really need to consider what is close by and how much room the jewelry will take up. There is no way around it the safest place for a tongue piercing is dead center as far back from the tip as possible. Any other placement is asking for contact with the structures that are important to your health. You know things like teeth, gums and bones. 

Other than multiple midline tongue piercing, I do not offer these piercings to the general public and do not suggest getting them. If you are dead set on getting one, ask the piercer to show you photos of a number of HEALED examples of their work and drill them on their success rate with the piercings. Also it is a good idea to contact those that are living with the piercing and ask about what problems they have had. DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!!

  • Multiple Tongue piercings - Depending on the length of the tongue a number of tongue piercing placed in the center can be done. I usually suggest healing one at a time but have done two in one session. Understand that the closer the piercing is to the tip of the tongue, the increased risk of causing damage and the more painful the piercing can be.
  • Tongue Tip - Pierced on the tip of the tongue within the first 1/2 of the tongue and is pierced with a barbell but a ring can be worn it after swelling. The biggest risk is damage to the teeth and gums on the front of the mouth. Due to the concentration of nerve endings, the piercing can be more painful then traditional tongue piercing and they are more prone to tearing or rejection.
  • Snake Bites, Venoms, Vipers, or Viper Bites - Pierced in groupings that are on the side of the tongue. Placement is extremely important to avoid, blood vessels and the verve structure of the tongue. Also the placement puts the piercing closer to the teeth and gums on the side of the mouth, increasing the likelihood of damage and may impair eating and talking more than a midline tongue piercing would. 
  • Tongue Web or Tongue Frenulum Piercing - This is a piercing that goes through the Web of tissue on the bottom. I will not do this piercing because of it's high risk of migration and the fact that a majority of people do not have the correct anatomy for the piercing. The term is also used for smilely and frowny piercing which I highly don't suggest having done due to the risks of damage to the structure of the mouth and their extremely high rejection rate.

All of these piercing are rare and it isn't because people haven't tried them but because they are prone to migration or high risk. If you are dead set on getting one of these piecing, do your research, ask for referrals, photos of healed examples and if you see someone with one, ask them about their experience with healing the piercing. Understand that just because the piercer has a number of photos of the piercing on their site or in their portfolios, it doesn't mean that these are example of healed and well seasoned piercings. Many take photos immediately after the piercing is done which may look great but you should be more interested in what they look like 6 months to 6 years after the piercing was done. If you look closely at the photo you may pick up on clues like redness or even the marking.

Jewelry:

With Tongue piercings you should plan on buying two pieces of jewelry, one longer for the piercing and swelling and one shorter to reduce damage to the structures in your mouth after the swelling is done. Since the tissue of the tongue is soft to reduce the risks of tearing, I suggest jewelry that is at least 14g but no larger than 10g to start out with. The jewelry that it is pierced with should be a great deal longer than the thickness of the tongue at rest. It is much better to pierce with a barbell that is a little too long than too short because the tongue is going to swell. However the jewelry shouldn't be so long that the piercee can not close their mouth comfortably. Usually starting jewelry is between 3/4 and 7/8 of an inch long however with thinner tongues and smaller mouths, 5/8 or 11/16 maybe be a better choice. It is a balancing act of allowing for the swelling but reducing other damage that might occur with an extremely long barbell.

I suggest Downsizing the jewelry in a week to ten days and that you have it professionally changed. Usually this is will past the swelling stage of the healing and leaving the longer barbell in is only going to prolong healing, increase discomfort and increase the risk of damage while the piercee is adapting to eating and talking with the jewelry in. The jewelry should be lose fitting when the tongue is at rest but should be long enough to allow the tongue to flex. The most common size is 1/2 to 11/16. Most studios will offer a discount on the replacement barbell.

  • Jewelry Types:
    • Straight Barbells - A straight post with threaded ends. I strongly suggest with all tongue piercings except possibly the tip of the tongue that you wear a barbell. Other types of jewelry will take up more room in your mouth and increase risks of damage to teeth, gums and bones. 
    • Captive Bead or Beaded Ring - A circular ring with a fixed bead or ball or a bead or ball that is held captive by the tension of the ring. I do not suggest wearing rings and other circular jewelry in tongue piercings. This is in part because the width of the jewelry will need to be long enough to clear the tissue but also because of the additional space the jewelry will take up. Piercing that are close to the edge or tip of the tongue maybe safe but there will be an increased risk of catching teeth and bitting the jewelry.
  • Jewelry Materials:
    • Implant Grade Steel - Still the most common and can hold up well in the mouth. However, in a battle with gums, bones and teeth, steel will always win.
    • Implant Grade Titanium - Lighter than Steel and more body friendly. However the layer of Oxidation that creates the different colors can lighten from erosion in the mouth.
    • 14kt or better Solid Gold - Will in most cases give before your teeth. Especially if it is a higher kart weight like 18kt. However since the metal is softer, it can become deformed from contact with teeth and be expensive to replace.
    • Acrylic and other Plastics - The main advantage to plastic is that is will break before your teeth will. However, there is no way to sterilize acrylic and other plastics and the material will degrade in the mouth. So, the jewelry or the ends need to be inspected and replaced on a regular bases. I suggest wearing a metal post with acrylic ends for security. I would not suggest wearing barbells with o-rings or "threadless" jewelry in the mouth. The chance if the o-rings falling off and you swallowing the jewelry are high.
  • Barbell Ends:
    • No-Cee-Ums - This is a flat often textured end that can blend in with the tongue and make the piercing less noticable.
    • Shaped objects - Avoid anything that is larger than a normal end. The larger the end the more space it will take up in your mouth and the increased risks of damage. Also the ends should be smooth without sharp edges or points because the will cause damage to the roof of your mouth.
    • Door Knockers/Slave Rings/Hanging Objects - Avoid ends that have anything hanging off it. This is just asking to catch the jewelry on teeth and increase the jewelry's contact with the structures in your mouth.
    • Jeweled or Logo Ends - Inspect the ends carefully and if you can run your finger over the end, if the top seems rough or there is sharp edges, imagine what that is going to feel like if it is rubbing against the roof of your mouth.
    • Vibrating/novelty ends - These are sold usually as a sex aid and really shouldn't be worn in the mouth at all.
    • Black light and Glow in the Dark - The Black light ends maybe safe but most materials that "Glow in the dark" shouldn't be worn inside your mouth at all. If the material is not intended for internal use, long term wear could put your health at risk. 

Procedure:

I usually size the jewelry at the end of the consultation. This will usually involve having the piecee sticking their tongue out, then having them try to touch the tip of their nose and then letting the tongue rest inside their open mouth.  What I'm looking for is the thickness of the tongue, the location of the end of frenulum and the shape of the mouth. Often I will then ask the piercee if they smoke and other questions about their diet, health and habits. After rinsing I will ask the piercee to do this tongue posing again when I mark the piercing.

Piercing Methods - First off, I do not suggest piercing the tongue without forceps. The hardest part about getting a tongue piercing is holding your tongue out of your mouth. My biggest concern is that if the piercing is done without forceps, is when you natural react to the piercing by pulling your tongue into your mouth, you will risk the safety of a needle stick to yourself or the piercer. Also, without forceps it will be much more difficult to thread the end onto the barbell. Thus increasing the length of the piercing procedure and the health risks. The piercing should be done with Round looped forceps called Foster Forceps in one of the two methods:

  1. Unassisted Method - This is the common method and the one that I normally use. The piercee is seated in an upright position with their head against the back of the chair. The piercer then clamps the tongue and holds the clamps in one hand and then does the piercing with the other. Often the tongue will be twisted slightly to one side or the other to avoid sticking the bottom lip or causing additional damage. The jewelry is then inserted and the piercer grips one end of the jewelry, supports the forceps and threads on the barbell end on the bottom. This may also require the tongue being twisted slightly to one side to give the piercer access to the jewelry. Then the forceps are removed. The advantage to this method is that the piercer is in complete control of the position of the forceps and increases the likelihood of the piercing being angled correctly. The disadvantage is there is often more movement of the forceps and threading on the barbell end can take longer and make the procedure much longer.
  2. Assisted Method - This is the method that I was trained to do. The piercing is reclined or laying down and instead of the piercer holding and supporting the forceps, an assistant holds the forceps leaving the piercer to only focus on the piercing, the jewelry insertion and closure. Unlike the other method the piercing is usually done bottom to top which has the added risk of the piercer dropping the ball into the mouth and straight down the throat. The advantage is that the whole procedure can be done much faster when the piercer has two hands to work with. The disadvantage is that the angle of the piercing and the forceps position is effected by the assistant. This could greatly effect the angle and outcome of the piercing. In most studios this is who ever is handy and that could be anyone from the piercer's apprentice to the untrained counter person to one of your friends. I stopped using this method to reduce that added variable but from time to time, a client's anatomy or state of mind requires this method.

A few hints to getting a tongue piercing:

  1. Have a light meal before getting the piercing. Eating will be effected by the piercing and it's best to get that taken care of before hand.
  2. Pick up your supplies before hand. You will need an alcohol free mouth rinse like Biotene, Crushed Ice and cold foods like Yogurt, popsicles, Ice Cream, Soft Foods like baby food, soap broth, smoothies, Sea Salt, distilled water and ibuprofen or other anti inflammatory.
  3. Pick a time to get the piercing when you will not have to talk and can rest. If your job involves talking, pick a three day weekend and get it pierced Friday after work.
  4. Avoid getting pierced around Holiday or special events. You will need to reduce your intake of alcohol and will be on a restricted diet. If there is a party that weekend or it's two days before Thanksgiving, you may want to wait till after to get the piercing.
  5. Brush your teeth before coming in to get your piercing. This is not only as a courtesy to your piercer but also the cleaner your mouth the less likely the infection. 
  6. During the piercing, your mouth may water. This is caused by a combination of having your tongue out of your mouth and rinsing. Fight the urge to swallow because you will pull your tongue into your mouth. I always put on a lovely dental bib on piercees for this reason and also give them a drool rag. The fact is that drooling is just part of a tongue piercing.
  7. The hardest part of getting your tongue pierced is keeping your tongue out of your mouth. Sometimes if your tongue is long enough you can bite down on the tongue to keep it out. However, if your tongue isn't long enough, it makes piercing the slimly thing much much harder. Ask your piercer before hand if it's OK to close your mouth and then listen to them. If they say they need your mouth open, open it. If you want you can practice keeping your tongue out before hand. The average tongue piercing from clamping to screwing on the barbell end is usually a little over a minute.
  8. After the piercing is done, fight the urge to play with the jewelry and talking right after the piercing is done. Playing with the jewelry increases bleeding, swelling, discomfort and the risks of damage to teeth, gums and bones. Regardless of what you have been told, all piercings bleed and resting the tongue and allowing it clot. The less you play with it or talk the less swelling and bleeding.

Hassles and Aftercare:

Normal reactions to a tongue piecing is swelling and slight bleeding for 3 to 5 days, tenderness, the area around the piercing to be discolored and for the discharge to form in yellowish strings. Scar tissue in your mouth is often white or clear and it is not uncommon for there to be a white ring of tissue to form around the piercing. Since the inside of your mouth is warm and moist, the discharge from the piercing will not harden on the jewelry like it would on other piercing outside of the mouth. It is not uncommon to see yellowish, snot like stings to hang from the bottom piercing hole. These are not a sign of infection and usually will rinse off.  

Tongue piercings are one of the fastest healing piercing. Taking usually between 2 to 6 weeks to heal. If would suggest that you review Oral Aftercare Instruction for detail information. You will need to change your diet, rinse with an Alcohol Free Anti-Septic Mouth Rinse like Biotene 3 to 5 times day and rinse twice daily with warm water and sea salt. In addition precautions to avoid infection will need to be taken including:

  • Washing your hands before putting them in your mouth and only handling the jewelry when your are checking the tightness of the ends of the jewelry.
  • No oral contact, Deep mouth kissing or sexual contact with the piercing for a minimum of 8 weeks. Even with a well healed piercing you are at risk of contracting STDs during oral sex. So always practice safe sex when switching partners.
  • Do not stick unclean objects in your mouth. This includes tooth picks, pen caps, etc.. 
  • Keep all of your eaten utensils clean. Avoid reusing cups, straws, etc...
  • Do not share utensils, food or drinks with others. 
  • Insure that your toothbrush and dental care items are clean. You may want to buy a new toothbrush and make sure that you store items in a way to reduce contamination. 

Different additional care and actions maybe needed during the stage of heal that I would outline as following:

  1. The Swelling Stage - Last on average Three to Five Days after the piercing. Usually the worst of the swelling will be the morning after the piercing. To reduce swelling, avoid playing with the jewelry or talking as much as possible. Avoid ingesting alcohol, tobacco, spicy foods or foods that are hot in temperature and/or other irritants. Swelling can also be greatly reduced by gently sucking on crushed ice and drinking ice water especially through out the night when the mouth dehydrates. Taking ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or other anti inflammatory can help manage swelling. Your diet should be soft bland uncomplicated foods like ice cream, smoothies, sport shakes, apple sauce, baby food, etc... until the swelling goes completely down. Listen to your body if a food or other item burns when it comes in contact with the piercing you shouldn't be eating it.
  2. The Adaption Stage - Once the swelling goes down you can begin to learn to eat solid foods with your new piecing. This can be very frustrating at first but before you know it it will feel stranger to have the jewelry out than in. It just take patience. If it takes an hour to carefully eat a meal, it is better than chipping a tooth or painfully twisting the barbell. During this adaption period, it is best to still stick with bland foods at first and listen to your body. I really suggest sticking to food types that you can cut up and then pick up with a fork and place directly in contact with your molars. It will take you a while to learn how to move food around your mouth with your tongue without catching the jewelry. This gets easier over time and once the length of the barbell is reduce gets a lot easier.
  3. Downsizing and easier street - The barbell should be replaced with a shorter one within 7 to 10 days. This is to reduce the risk of tearing of the piercing and contact with teeth, gums and bones. The other main reason is that it will make eating and talking much, much, much easier. Though the length of the barbell may only go down an eighth of an inch, this is huge in the tight confines of your mouth. During this period you can slowly begin to expand your diet. Take baby steps. What you are doing is learning to how to eat solid foods again. Just like a child you don't want to go straight from a milk shake to pizza with Italian Sausage and hot peppers where you are dealing with spice, stringy cheese, meat, crust and the acidic tomato sause. Test the water and listen carefully to your piercing and how it is reacting to the introduction of different food and food types.

Risks & Concerns:

The biggest risk to getting a tongue piecing is that from long term contact of the jewelry with teeth, gums and the bone structure inside the mouth, it will cause damage. Often this damage is not reversible or can lead to larger problems. Steps need to be taken to reduce these risks from the start.

  1. First off, find a piercer with a great deal of experience dealing with a board range of anatomy and a clear understanding of placement that will reduce the risk of damage. Placement can increase or decrease the risks. If the piercer does not cover these risks with you in the consultation, you might consider going elsewhere. If they offer no consultation before the piercing, go somewhere else.
  2. Downsize the jewelry to a smaller piece within 7 to 10 days. Leaving the longer barbell in is only going increase the risks of damage and make your adaption to the piercing longer and harder. Also it will increase the risks of tearing of the piercing and possibly lengthen the healing time with the added abuse.
  3. Avoid playing with the piercing. Playing with the jewelry and chewing on the ends just increases the amount of contact the jewelry will have with your teeth. This will only increase the risk of damage.
  4. Avoid large barbell ends or over sized jewelry.

Another concern during the healing is Thrush because you are rinsing a great deal more than you would normally. Thrush is an outgrowth Candida Fungi caused by a break down of the natural bacterial balance on mucous membranes in the mouth. Without the good bacteria keeping the Fungi in check it over grows coating the mouth and tongue with cottage cheese looking growths. It has been years since I've seen an outgrowth of thrush but precautions should be taken:

  • Do not use harsh Antimicrobial or Antibacterial Mouthwashes. Especially those with harsh active ingredients like alcohol. You should use an alcohol free mouthwash like Biotene. Do not over rinse. You should only rinse between 4 to 5 times a day. I know that in the past I've suggested rinsing after ingesting anything other than distilled water but rinsing for 30 seconds after meals and right before bed is more than effective.  
  • If you are on medications that put you at risk, you should consider delaying the piercing until you are no longer taking the medication and it is no longer in your system. If you have a medical condition that puts you at risk, talk to your doctor and discuss your risks with healing the piercing. Regardless of the piercing, you should do this and also talk to your piercer about any other risks your medical condition may cause. With oral piercings it is a good idea to bring Thrush up with your doctor or dentist and explain the use of mouthwash because it might be something they may not consider.
  • Do not share jewelry with someone else or insert jewelry into the piercing if it has not be sterilized. This could introduce harmful pathogens into the piercing area and increase the likelihood of an creating an imbalance.
  • If you smoke consider stopping during the healing or using the piercing as an incentive for quitting.
  • Practice good dentinal hygiene and avoid putting unclean objects in your mouth. If you are sick or there is any strain on your immune system, delay getting the piercing until you are healthy
  • Eating healthy, getting plenty of rest and reducing stress will all help your body fight off infection and speed up the healing. Eating a couple of containers of Yogurt a day. Yogurt contains live beneficial bacterial microorganisms that can increase your body's ability to fight off yeast over growth. Especially the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus that produces lactic acid and creates an environment that is not hospitable to Candida fungi. 

For more information on Thrush go to DaVo's Piercing Blog on the Subject - Thrush and Oral Piercings

Another risk is swallowing the jewelry. Though in most cases swallowing the barbell end will not create problems, that may not be the case with the rest of the jewelry. The biggest concern is that it would become stuck in the digestive track or the sharp edges and points would cause damage as it passes through. The other problem is how quickly the piercing will close if the jewelry is left out. It doesn't matter how long you have had the piercing or what gauge the jewelry is leaving the jewelry out for any length of time could result in losing the piercing. 

It is important to check the tightness of the ends on a regular bases. The acts of talking and eating can cause the jewelry's threaded ends to come unscrewed. After wearing the jewelry for a number of years you will be able to notice when it begins to loosen. However since you most commonly loose ends when you are eating or sleeping, it is best to check the tightness before and after meals and before going to bed. Also if the balls seem loose even when they are tighten it may mean that the threading is becoming damaged and needs to be replaced. This can happen with normal wear and isn't always a sign of poor quality but it may mean that you are playing with the jewelry too much. I had a client years ago that kept striping out jewelry that came from what I still consider one of the best manufactures out there. We couldn't figure out what was causing the problem, until his partner noticed one night that he was grinding the barbell between his teeth in his sleep. 

Caring for the Piercing After Healing, Comfort, Nesting and Concealment:

  • Tongue jewelry will tend to collect Plaque. This is especially true on the bottom end of the jewelry and bar. This can be reduced by using an anti-plaque rinse, using floss to clean the jewelry or brushing the jewelry. However often the most effect way is to remove the jewelry and clean it. This should only be done if you feel comfortable putting the jewelry back in and after the piercing is well healed. You can clean it with a good brushing or use denture cleaner.
  • Always check your jewelry to insure that ends are finger tight. You should also remove the ends and check them for damage. This is especially true with Acrylics and Plastic ends. If the ends become pitted or scratched they should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Some may find that the ball on the bottom of the piercing is uncomfortable. It is the human body and we all have different anatomy and you may just not have the room to comfortably wear a ball on the bottom. A solution is to wear a flat Labret disc on the bottom side of the piercing.
  • Often a barbell end will rest or nest into the top of the tongue. This is wear a small crater or indention will form around the top piercing hole that the ball will nest or rest in. This is normal and usually will not cause a problem unless more than 30% of the ball rests into the tongue during healing. If this happens there is a risk that the end could become embedded into the tongue or the tissue could grow over the ball. Often this can be solved by changing the jewelry to a long length or replacing the end with something longer.
  • Tongue piercing are one of the few piercings above the neck that can be concealed. However this depends on a couple of different factors and isn't 100%. Usually the piercing is noticed when some was looking up or down at you depending on how wide you open your mouth. The reality is most people notice tongue piercings when the wearer draws attention to the piercing by playing with it. Which is something you shouldn't be doing in the first place. To reduce the visibility of a tongue piercing it should be placed as far back from the tip as it can and the jewelry should be the smallest that can safely be worn in the piercing. No-Cee-Ums and flesh colored flat ends can help but will not make the post invisible. It might come down to you trying to avoid opening your mouth wide enough for the piercing to be visible. If your employment may require hiding the piercing, you might consider not doing the piercing because there is no guarantee that you will be able to keep the fact you have the piercing hidden from your employer.

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