If you are thinking about getting a tongue piercing, you are doing the right thing by researching the pros and cons first. Tongue piercings are very popular for a myriad of reasons… be it for shock value, appearance, or pleasure enhancement (to name only a few reasons). If you are considering a tongue piercing – included but not limited to piercing of the tongue, tongue web, or uvula – there are several important factors you must consider before getting pierced.
Before we delve into the universal risks, each piercing has its own set of aftercare and precautions to be aware of. The most common oral piercing is of course the tongue piercing, which to a professional piercer is one of the easiest piercings to perform. Usually performed directly through the center of the tongue (although the tongue can be pierced in other places – but talk to your piercer first!) and the jewelry of choice is always a barbell. The barbell jewelry is used because tongue piercings will become swollen for a couple days to a week after the initial piercing, and the barbell can accommodate the swelling. After a period of 4-6 weeks, the jewelry can be replaced.
After a tongue piercing, it is STRONGLY advised not to smoke, engage in oral sex, or kiss. Proper cleaning should be done frequently, because the mouth is full of bacteria. Although saliva is the body’s natural way of combating harmful bacteria, with an open wound such as a piercing, the odds of infection do increase. With an open wound such as a tongue piercing, the risk of diseases being transferred is greater too , including the Hepatitis strains and HIV. Heed the advice given to you by your piercer to prevent serious and unhealthy scenarios!
The tongue web, formerly called the frenulum linguae, is located beneath the tongue. This is a piercing that is NOT applicable to everyone – some people do not have tongue webs pronounced enough to pierce! Many piercer refuse to do this piercing, not because of any extraordinary risks per say, but because most people do not clean their tongue web piercing frequently enough (which leads to plaque build up) or can’t keep their tongue on the roof of their mouth during the piercing. If you do get this piercing, clean it regularly as it is an open wound in the mouth and therefore prone to infection. If the piercing is not deep enough, the body will “reject” or “push out” the piercing – not particularly harmful, but unpleasant and should be avoided all the same.
The final piercing that is wholly located within the mouth is considered an extreme piercing and it is still very rare (and some may argue, completely impractical even by piercing standards). The Uvula, informally known as the “dangly thing” or “punching bag” located in the back of the throat by the tonsils, can be pierced. Most piercers will not perform this, even though the procedure is simple. Many people do not have their gag reflex controlled enough to successfully go through with the piercing (just imagine the hazards of gagging with a sharp needle in your mouth!), and the uvula is very active pierce of tissue hence the possibility of the body rejecting the piercing is very real. Jewelry that is rejected will almost definitely be swallowed, which can pose health risks.
This article is not to deter you from getting a piercing of the tongue, tongue web, or uvula, but it is not wise to trapeze into a piercing parlor (and side note: don’t even THINK about getting an oral piercing anywhere other than a sterile professional piercing parlor) to get an oral piercing on a whim. To prevent infection or rejection, consider your lifestyle: Do you smoke? This alone will definitely harass your new piercing and prolong the healing process. Are you orally fixated, therefore prone to tinkering and playing with your jewelry? Constant playing with tongue piercings can cause irreversible damage to the teeth and gums. Are you getting surgery soon? Your oral piercing will have to come out – surgeons insist on it to prevent surgical complications – and by the time you come out of anesthesia, your piercing will be completely healed. Have you had a tongue pierced before and want to get it repierced? Some piercers will refuse on the basis that scar tissue is very difficult to pierce through. Listen to your intuition. If your gut feeling is saying not to get an oral piercing, don’t do it! If you do get an oral piercing, pay close attention to your body. If something is wrong, your body will let you know!