Why do people undergo tongue piercings? This article will give you all the information and insight you need into jewelry choices, pain levels, healing times and risks like infections. We’ll also cover prices for the job and the proper aftercare. We will share some photos, too.
Why get an Under Tongue Piercing?
The web of your tongue, known as the frenulum, is a thin piece of tissue that connects the underneath side of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. Piercings that decorate the under-tongue area perforate that thin tissue.
Since this webbing is so thin, it doesn’t have too many blood vessels, so it doesn’t bleed as often or as much as some other piercings. The piercing and jewelry are not very noticeable until you lift up your tongue.
There are two glands beneath the tongue that you need to be careful of when you have the frenulum pierced. They deliver saliva to the mouth. Saliva helps to moisten food and keeps the tongue and mouth lubricated. If the glands are punctured, you may have more pain and permanent damage. In some cases the glands could become blocked or shut down, which causes further complications and possible medical expenses.
Pain Associated with Piercings under the Tongue
This type of piercing does not utilize any type of numbing agent. This means that you may feel pain. Everyone reacts to pain differently, but most people who have had this piercing report minimal pain. The frenulum has few nerve endings, so this helps in reducing pain levels.
Piercing of that delicate tissue below your tongue is not without any pain, however. You’ll need to become accustomed to the jewelry, too. It’s in an unusual place. You may feel pressure as the clamp holds the frenulum during piercing, so that can be uncomfortable.
Other than the pinch that occurs when needle and jewelry go through the frenulum, you likely will not have more than some tenderness as the piercing heals.
The jewelry you have your professional piercer use should be sized properly. This helps the piercing to heal properly and lowers the rejection risk. Most people start with a curved barbell. After the piercing has healed, you can usually replace that with another jewelry piece.
Pricing for Under Tongue Piercing
Tongue piercings run about $90, depending on where you live and how many professional piercers work in your area. ONLY use a professional piercer for all your piercings.
Some piercers charge separately for the jewelry and the piercing, and others include both in the price. On the west coast of the US, for example, the basic charge is around $25 for the piercing itself and about $40 for the jewelry. Piercings under the tongue may run from $5-$10 more than more standard piercings of the tongue.
Risks for Piercing under the Tongue
Piercing under the tongue does not come with too many risks, but there are a few. Infection is the most common. If you have your piercing done by a professional, that risk is lowered. In addition, you need to use proper oral hygiene as your piercing heals.
Rejection occasionally occurs in this type of piercing, too. Your body sees any piercing jewelry as a foreign object. It may try to force it back out, to protect your body. This sets healing time back and is known as jewelry migration. If your frenulum is too small, a professional piercer may decide not to proceed with piercing it.
Never do any piercings at home. Use professional piercers to have a better chance at avoiding complications like infections.
Healing of your Under Tongue Piercing
The healing time for piercings under the tongue varies for each person, but it usually takes somewhere between eight and ten weeks. Some people heal in as few as two weeks. Tenderness and bleeding are to be expected in the first few days after piercing.
As your piercing is healing, stick to the aftercare instructions given to you by your piercer. Leave the same jewelry in as the piercing heals.
What to DO after a Piercing
- Wash your hands with soap & water before you touch the jewelry or the piercing, to avoid transference of germs.
- Place small ice chips in your mouth during the day, to help in curbing any swelling you may experience.
- Use proper oral hygiene. Rinse your mouth after meals and snacks and before you go to bed. Eat softer foods like protein shakes, ice cream and mashed potatoes until the piercing has healed.
What NOT to do after a Piercing
- Don’t talk too much while your piercing heals. This stresses the frenulum piercing and could case migration, scarring or other types of complications.
- Don’t play with your jewelry. This could cause irritation that may lead to slower healing.
- Don’t drink alcohol, as it dries out your mouth and the piercing. It may also irritate your piercing and delay the proper process of healing. When rinsing with mouthwash, make sure it’s alcohol-free.
- Don’t engage in kissing or oral sex until your piercing is done healing. Otherwise, you may risk bacterial exposure and infection.
- Don’t smoke after your piercing under the tongue. Tobacco delays wound healing and this is no exception, even though your piercing is beneath your tongue. Smoking dries out the mouth and makes it harder for oral wounds to heal. Most experts advise against smoking marijuana or eating marijuana edibles, as well.
- Don’t share your food or drinks with anybody.
- Don’t bite your nails or other things like chewing gum or pencils. Those could transfer bacteria into the mouth.
Infection of Under Tongue Piercing
Your tongue piercing should heal completely within weeks. The swelling will be more noticeable in the first few weeks. If it doesn’t go down, or you experience other symptoms as well, consult your physician. You may need antibiotics or other medications.
Sometimes a bump develops under the tongue when you have a tongue piercing. Any time you are creating a wound in your body like a piercing, it can become infected. A professional piercer with sterile tools will lessen the risk.
If the bump around your piercing is producing swelling or pain, oozing or emitting a bad odor, you might have developed an infection. The risk for infection is increased if your symptoms persist or if your redness spreads or turns darker red or even purple. Developing a fever is also a sign of infection.
Antibiotics prescribed by your physician will treat your under tongue infection, if you have one. He may send fluid from the area to be evaluated, so he’ll know what kind of bacteria is found there. In this way, he can determine which antibiotic will work most effective in treating the infection.
Infections in piercings under the tongue are generally cause by the types of bacteria living in the mouth already. If they spread or multiply, this causes infection. They can be serious if untreated, so don’t try to save money by not seeing a physician for treatment.
Signs of Possible Infection
A slight redness in the tongue area is very normal in the process of healing. If it is persistent, however, and comes with pain and swelling, it may be a symptom of infection.
Some swelling in the piercing area right after it’s done is expected. If the swelling continues beyond the first couple weeks, gets worse, or is accompanied by a difficulty in swallowing or even in speaking, this is an infection sign. If you have trouble swallowing or speaking, you need immediate medical diagnosis and treatment.
Some bleeding often occurs right after your piercing has been done. However, bleeding that continues beyond the healing process is usually another infection symptom.
- Red streaks
If you see red streaks that radiate outward from your piercing, and extend on the front and/or side of your tongue, this usually means you have an advanced infection. You’ll need to see your physician right away for antibiotics.
- Discharge and discoloration
An extreme tongue discoloration (like yellow, green, black or purple) must be taken seriously. It indicates advanced infection. Seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.
Discoloration is sometimes accompanied by a yellow or greenish discharge. This is pus coming from the area of the mouth that is infected. This will also require medical treatment and antibiotics right away.
- Plastic studs work best in under tongue piercings
When you get the underside of your tongue pierced, it’s a good idea to have your piercer use plastic studs, rather than titanium or stainless steel studs. Plastic is less likely to be affected by bacteria.
If you believe you have an infection, don’t take the jewelry out yourself. This will break open the healing that has already taken place.
Treating Under Tongue Piercings
If you have any type of infection after a piercing under your tongue is done, you need to see a physician and get the proper antibiotics. There are no self-help methods for taking care of infections. Your physician may also prescribe medication for pain.
Other than pain killers and antibiotics, there isn’t much else to be done in healing an infection in the mouth or on the tongue. Even if you are taking antibiotics, you should still perform all your aftercare. Soaking with sea salt and water is especially helpful.
Jewelry for Tongue Web Piercings
Captive bead rings or curved barbells are the best two choices for piercing done under your tongue.
Most professional piercers will use a 16 gauge if you want captive bead rings. If you have a barbell inserted at piercing, your piercer will likely use a longer barbell, to allow for swelling in the first few days after your piercing. Once your swelling has subsided, you can get a shorter bar. Some piercers will charge for this, while others do it free as part of your piercing.
Jewelry for piercings under the tongue may be made with high carbonate plastics or high quality metals. Metallic types are usually made with or coated with titanium, steel or gold.
Colored jewelry is an option for these piercings under the tongue, too. You can order them online or purchase them from specialty jewelry or piercing shops.