Is a Tongue Piercing Risky? All About Tongue Piercings, Aftercare, and Myths April 5, 2021 – Posted in: Piercing Advice, Piercing Types – Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tongue piercing risks highlights: 

  • The standard tongue piercing does not carry any more risks than those associated with other oral piercings.
  • Simply keep your piercing clean and wear the proper-sized jewelry, and you shouldn’t see any problems.
  • Tongue piercing infections don’t occur more often than in other piercing types, but you should still be aware of the symptoms.

The tongue piercing has become a sought-after style for a number of reasons.

Some people enjoy the fact that it’s more hidden—provided they learn to speak around the jewelry—which allows them to enjoy a more alternative piercing even at work.

Others love the sensuality of this piercing. They find this style incredibly sexy and love how the tongue piercing allows them to express themselves.

And then you have those who simply enjoy the look.

Whatever your reason for getting your tongue pierced, you should be sure to conduct proper research before you make your piercing appointment. After all, your tongue is arguably one of your most important muscles, and you want to make sure that you treat it safely.

Let us be your first stop as you learn more about the tongue piercing. Here’s a beginner’s guide.

What is the tongue piercing?

Let’s start with the basics.

The tongue piercing is a piercing that goes perpendicularly through the tongue. It can be placed in limited locations along the midline of the tongue as long as your anatomy allows. 

Why such a small “sweet spot” for placement? If the piercing is placed too far back along the tongue, the barbell will be too long and press against the bottom teeth which can result in gum loss and bone erosion. Too close to the tip, and the barbell may rattle against the teeth, damaging them in the process.

You should always research a reputable piercer who has specific experience with tongue piercings. An improperly placed tongue piercing can result in a failed piercing, awkward speech, and even tooth damage. However, if you find a skilled piercer, then you aren’t likely to have problems when it comes to your tongue piercing.

View our guide to finding a reputable piercer here

Is it dangerous?

Urban legends abound when it comes to piercings, and the tongue piercing is an oft-targeted victim.

It’s true that there are risks associated with the tongue piercing. If pierced incorrectly, it is possible to damage a nerve or see jewelry rejection. If the jewelry is too big, you could accidentally chomp on it and chip your teeth. If you don’t take care of it properly, you could see some complications.

However, all of these risks have easy fixes. Choose a reputable piercing studio to ensure safe placement. Ask your piercer to change the jewelry if it feels as though it’s getting in your way. And, simply take care of your piercing as it heals.

If you make the right choices, then any dangers associated with tongue piercings are negligible.

Some tongue piercing placements, however, are inadvisable because of their risks. The snake eyes piercing is one that has piqued interest among piercees in the last few years, but it should be avoided. Because it’s placed horizontally, it goes through two independent muscle groups. This will impede tongue movement as you talk. Furthermore, since it’s located at the tip of the tongue, the jewelry will scrape against the teeth and pose a chomping risk. For the sake of your speech and oral health, do not get the snake eyes tongue piercing.

How long does the tongue piercing take to heal?

Since wounds in the mouth heal faster than wounds on the skin, the tongue piercing doesn’t take too long to heal—about 4 to 8 weeks.

It’s important to note that this timeframe is a minimum, and you should always have your piercer confirm that you’re fully healed before stopping aftercare practices.

To ensure that healing takes as little time as possible, there are certain things that you need to pay attention to.

  • Clean your tongue piercing 2 – 3 times daily with a piercing aftercare saline solution making sure to clean both sides.
  • Brush your teeth with a soft bristle brush 2 – 3 times daily.
  • Use a non-alcoholic mouthwash. (The alcohol will irritate the piercing and it will sting quite a bit.)
  • Try not to move your tongue too much as it heals. This could mean not talking at the beginning of the healing period.
  • Stick to soft foods as you get used to the jewelry. Stay away from acidic or spicy foods throughout healing.
  • Your tongue will likely swell for the first few days after getting pierced. Your piercer will fit you with a longer piece of jewelry to accommodate this swelling. Once swelling has gone down, consider visiting your piercer to get fit with a smaller piece. It will be easier to talk around and less of a chomping risk.

How to Clean Your Tongue Piercing

To clean your tongue piercing, simply spray a cotton swab or clean paper towel and gently wipe the front and back of the piercing. This will clear away debris and flush out any microbes. Do this alongside proper oral care.

Buy NeilMed’s piercing aftercare spray here

Will my tongue piercing affect my speech?

The unsatisfying answer to this is, maybe.

Your ability to speak around the jewelry will largely depend upon placement. If you get pierced closer to the tip of your tongue, you’re going to have a more difficult time learning to speak normally than you will if you get pierced appropriately.

No matter what, you’ll probably experience a bit of a learning curve when it comes to talking normally. For the first few days after the piercing, you should expect some impacted speech.

Most people are able to learn how to talk with their tongue piercing quickly. Talk to your piercer about placement and any advice that they might have about getting used to the piercing. 

Is my tongue more likely to get infected than other piercings?

Short and sweet answer: no.

A common misperception surrounding tongue piercings is that they easily get infected. The truth is that, as long as you take care of the piercing, it’s no more likely to get infected than any other piercing. Simply keep it clean and practice your normal oral hygiene, and you should be fine.

It is, however, important to note the symptoms of a piercing infection in case you develop one. Some symptoms of a tongue piercing infection are similar to that of regular healing (just way more intense), so it causes some confusion.

You might have a tongue piercing infection if:

  • Your piercing begins to swell, especially after the initial swelling already went down.
  • It excretes yellow or green pus (clear or semi-white discharge is fine). 
  • It starts bleeding quite a bit, especially if it’s a few weeks after the initial piercing.
  • It feels warm or feverish.

These symptoms will appear rapidly (you might go to sleep with a happy piercing a wake up with an angry one), and they are fairly severe compared to the symptoms of regular healing. If it’s only slightly inflamed, then it’s probably not an infection. That being said, infections are nothing to mess around with, so if you think you might have one, seek professional guidance immediately.


The tongue piercing looks fantastic, and it’s less of a risk than misconceptions lead you to believe. As always, be sure to fully research your piercer and adhere to proper aftercare practices, and your tongue piercing should be just fine.

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