Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeOral Health & HygieneTongue Piercing Procedure: How a Tongue Gets Pierced

Tongue Piercing Procedure: How a Tongue Gets Pierced

I remember vividly a lecture that I had last year in one of my pediatric dentistry classes.  My professor told us a story about how she went down to one of the local piercing parlors and asked if she could take pictures of a tongue piercing.  They let her take some pictures and she showed them to our class.

She commented that if parents actually knew what happens when their kid gets their tongue pierced, there would be a lot less pierced tongues.

I debated about whether or not I should put an image of an actual tongue piercing in this article, but I think it may be too graphic for some people.  If you’d like to see what a tongue looks like as it’s getting pierced with a needle, you can see a photo with an explanation by clicking here.

Keep in mind that there are many risks with piercing your tongue, so I would advise against getting your tongue pierced.  In this article, I’ll simply focus on the process of getting your tongue pierced.

Tongue Piercing Procedure

The Tongue Piercing Procedure

First of all, the person piercing your tongue will use a marker to mark the spot on the taste-bud side of the tongue where the piercing will be.  If you look closely at the photo above, you’ll see a dark blue mark where the ring enters the tongue.

Next, the piercer will hold onto your tongue with some sort of a clamp so that it doesn’t move when it is pierced.  If the tongue moves and the needle goes through the wrong part, it could hit a blood vessel or cause damage to a nerve.

As they are holding onto the tongue, the piercer will stick a thick needle through your tongue without using any anesthetic.  (See a picture of this here – not for the faint of heart!)  Some people say this hurts, others say that as long as you find the right person to pierce your tongue, it shouldn’t hurt.  Since piercers are not licensed medical professionals, they are not permitted to give you any anesthetic to numb your tongue and prevent you from feeling pain.

Then, the piercer will put a long barbell through the hole that was made in the tongue.  Usually the barbell is 18 millimeters (about ¾ inch) long.  The initial barbell needs to be long because your tongue will swell a lot after the piercing.  If a short barbell is used, the tongue could swell around it and trap the barbell inside the tongue.  If this occurs, surgery will be needed to remove the barbell from the tongue.

If your tongue piercing is done in a clean, sanitary environment and doesn’t become infected., the initial 18 mm barbell can be replaced with a shorter barbell.


After your tongue has been pierced, you must leave the barbell in place or the hole can close up.  It can be removed for very brief periods of time without this occurring but there is always a risk.  It’s a good idea to remove any tongue jewelry when you’re playing sports so that you don’t damage your teeth.

Do you have any stories or experiences with tongue piercing?  I’d love to hear about your stories, questions and comments in the comments section below!


  1. Yo me hice un aro en la lengua sin anestesia, fui con 2 amigas a un lugar seguro, realmente no senti TANTO dolor como todos dicen, sientes como te la atraviesan, pero fuera de eso, nada mas.
    Despues al salir del local, yo iba caminando junto a mis amigas y conversaba como siempre, era un poco incomodo, pero nada de dolor.

    Al llegar a casa si es molesto alimentarse los primeros 3 dias pero luego ya no.
    Hay qe lavarse la boca con un ENJUAGUE BUCAL ; mientras mas veces, mejor.

    Personalmente a mi me encanta este piercing, yo tengo claro que es dañino, pero si uno es responsable y lo quita como aqui se dijo cuando sea necesario, todo esta bien.

    Edit by Tom: Here’s an English version of the above (Hopefully my five years of Spanish paid off!)

    I got a tongue piercing without anesthesia, I went with a couple of friends to a reputable piercing place. It really didn’t hurt as much as everyone says. You feel it as they push the needle into the tongue, but not much else aside from that.
    Later when leaving the place, I was walking with my friends and talked like we normally do. It was a little annoying, but not painful.

    After I got home, I found that it was annoying to eat for the first 3 days, but after that it wasn’t.
    I had to rinse with mouth wash more than normal, but it got better.

    Personally I love my piercing. I clearly understand that it is harmful, but as long as the person who gets the piercing is responsible and removes it when necessary, everything will be alright.

    • Hi Julia – Thanks for your comment. You do make some good points. A lot of things that we do pose certain risks to our health, but sometimes the benefits outweigh the risks to people for certain things.

  2. Im really into getting my tongue peirced this summer. i dont no if i should though. I do gymnastics 3 times a week and dont no if it would effect my playing? Since you have to keep in for a while would it be a good idea to do?

    • Hi Britt – With the gymnastics, it’s pretty likely that the barbell could hit against your teeth and gradually chip them, or it could cause an injury if you fell or had an accident.

      The tongue does heal pretty quickly, so if you took the barbell out for an extended period of time, the tongue would close the hole much more quickly than an ear would close an ear piercing.

      Based on the risks of tongue piercing, it’s not a good idea when it comes to your oral health. However, some people find that the personal reasons for wanting a pierced tongue outweighs the risks.

      It’s a personal decision you’ll have to make based on what you know about the risks and benefits to you. If you do get it, it’s a good idea to remove it when performing physical activities.

  3. I’ve wanted a Tongue piercing since the start of March and My mother told me I could get it done on My Birthday and My B-day is in 2 days and I’m really nervous because I have a Thick Tongue and I’m Afraid something could go wrong:/

    • Hi Julia – If you go to a reputable place to have it done, chances are that you’ll be pretty safe. Let them know your concerns and they should be able to address those for you. Like any surgical procedure, things CAN go wrong when you get your tongue pierced, but that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily happen.

      I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to read the article I wrote about the risks of getting your tongue pierced, but that can let you know what could happen.

      As a dental professional, I do discourage tongue piercings because they aren’t very friendly to your teeth and gums, but I realize that the benefits of a tongue piercing outweigh the risks for many people. I hope everything goes well! Thanks for your comment, Julia.

  4. Hello, I got my tongue pierced 3 weeks ago but took it out today because there’s a funny looking flap of tongue tissue of some sort at the front and I took it out to see if it could heal over flat again so I can get it re-pierced?

    • Hi Julie – It sounds like part of your tongue was torn slightly when you got it pierced and that flap is left over from that. We don’t learn too much about piercings, but I would ask a tongue-piercing expert to find out what your options are.

      I wish I could be of more help, Julie. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for your comment!

      • it is completely normal my mother and two stepsisters and i all have that little tissue flap thing. It dosent bother us its just there.

  5. I got my tongue pierced twice and both times it got infected and was extremely painful. The first time I jerked my tongue back, so, the piercing went in crooked, the second time, I stuck it out for almost a week and couldn’t take anymore….I wasn’t able to eat, couldn’t talk right, kept spitting, my tongue was still swollen and it was even painful to drink water and take pain meds, so, I took it out and felt relief immediately. I’ll never get it pierced again, I learned my lesson.

  6. Hey,

    I’ve been thinking about getting my tongue pierced for 2 years now but now that I have researched and I’ve seen videos on how it’s done, I wonder if it wouldn’t be a bad idea at all… My only issue is, my tongue is really short.

    Will there be a problem with that? Also, would it look bad because of the length of my tongue?

  7. hey, i’m getting my tongue pierced in a few days, but i have my tongue web already pierced, is it a good idea or should i just take it out?

  8. Hey . I am planning to get my tongue pierced this coming friday. I am kind of nervous about the whole thing, now that i read what you wrote . I am scared that something will go wrong, but i really want it done . What should i even do ?


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