anatomy of the tongue

If you have made the decision to get your tongue pierced, you need to be aware that the tongue is more than just a lump of muscle. It is a very useful muscle/organ of the mouth. We use it to taste, aid in the chewing and swallowing of our food, talking, and more intimate human interactions. For these reasons alone be sure that you do your research and find a reputable piercing studio.

Body modifications have been done for centuries in varying cultures all around the world. One downfall of tongue piercing in times past was the materials that were used. Unlike today’s modern materials metals, wood, and stone would not be as clean for the wound to heal and if not treated with care could easily become an infection which would lead to death. Modern day Stainless steel, titanium and plastics are the more popular choices for tongue jewelry.

let’s take a look at how a tongue piercing is typically done. If you enter the studio, sit in the chair and the guy/gal pulls out a piercing gun, you have not done your research well and need to stand up and leave the studio immediately. A professional will always use a needle, guns cause more trauma and can not be properly sterilized. Always seek a professional. A professional will use forceps and a cannula needle. (Cannula needle is a hollow needle that comes in many different gauges.) Usually the process takes a few minutes and you will need to keep your mouth open, your jaw may become a little tired but overall it goes by fairly quick.

The traditional jewelery is a studded bar through the vertical center of the tongue. The forward/backward placement on the tongue is determined by looks and tongue anatomy. The piercer should be familiar with the anatomy of the tongue. Per our included picture you can see that there are blood vessels, nerves, and glands that need to be avoided. The piercer may use a strong light to better see the vessels before making the pierce.

      • Step one: Finding the placement of the piercing. This includes making sure that the needle placement will not intersect with any of the above mentioned obstacles and it is in a good placement visually for the client. This is usually marked off by a chemical safe marker which acts like a visual guidance for the piercing.
      • Step two: place the forceps so that the visual dot is in the center of the open forceps. The forceps will apply pressure to the tongue in which allows for control for the piercing procedure and acts as a minor pain inhibitor.
      • Step three: The moment you have been waiting for, the actual piercing of the tongue. While this may seem like a simple step you must be aware that the tongue is a very hefty muscle and muscle is not easy to puncture. The puncture must be controlled because the muscle layer of the tongue is very tough and any uncontrolled piercing of this layer can result is further damage should you exit the muscle layer to fast.
      • Step four: Follow the puncture with the stud and cap the piercing.

Though every person is different, overall most report low on the pain scale. As with most body piercings that use forceps you will really feel the pressure more than anything. Shortly after the procedure your tongue will feel heavy and will soon start to swell. The swelling comes from the body trying to protect the affected area. For this very reason one should request a longer studded bar than normal. The tongue can swell up to double it’s size. If you have too small of a bar in the piercing it can lead to a very painful experience.

After Care:

      • Pick up some anti-inflammatory medicine such as Naproxen or Ibuprofin. This will help alleviate any pain and reduce swelling.
      • Purchase a new soft bristle toothbrush and store it in a clean dry area by itself. It’s best to use a new toothbrush to cut down on germs.
      • Purchase an alcohol free mouthwash such as alcohol free Listerine or biotene. You may also rinse with a salt water solution you can make yourself. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt to one cup (8 ounces) warm distilled or bottled water. *Please note if you have a heart condition using salt is not recommended.
      • Rinse your mouth out after every meal and before you go to bed for at least thirty seconds. This should be around four to five times a day. Do not overdo it, if you do you may notice some discoloration and experience some irritation.
      • Wash your hands thoroughly before you touch your jewelry for any reason.
      • Take care of yourself, try to avoid stress and try and get good restful sleep.

Thinks to avoid.

      • Talking a lot will put undue stress on the healing process and can lead to scar tissue, mitigation and other complications.
      • Kissing – Yep, it sucks but french kissing during the healing process can lead to infection.
      • Engage in oral sex. Yes, another thing to avoid, However, no one said you can’t receive oral sex.
      • Getting hammered. Alcohol can not only cause irritation but can lead to other complications, so lay off the beer and hard alcohol for a couple months.
      • Gnawing on things. Don’t Bite your nails, pencil, pens, ipad, chew gum, or stick any other foreign object in your mouth.
      • Smoking cigarettes, marijuana or anything else will increase your risk of infection and will lengthen the time it takes to heal.
      • Finally don’t share any type of drink, plate, food, silverware, straw, or anything else with anyone.

One last thing that should be mentioned for the after affects of a tongue piercing. The tongue is a very fast healing part of the body. So fast that recent piercing may close up in a matter of minutes. To avoid this from happening you will always want to have a stud in your tongue. The pain that follows the piercing will start to subside after 2 to 4 days. Swelling will last about the same time. It will take about 2 weeks before you start to feel comfortable with the new piercing and are ready to play with it.

Before we end this article, I can not stress it enough, find a professional don’t to this yourself. Do some research on local studios or the piercer that will be working on you. Make sure they understand and can answer any of your concerns. There are some risk that are involved with getting your tongue pierced and a professional will be able to mitigate a lot of it. Be safe, it’s your body.