Tongue piercings are one of the most popular piercings available today. While it may seem like a painful place to have a piercing, most people consider tongue piercings to be one of the least painful piercings to have done. Proper placement and aftercare for your piercing (both during and after the healing process) will ensure your piercing is healthy and can be kept in for as long as you like.
When having your tongue pierced, there are three things to consider with placement: that the piercing is placed in the center of the width of your tongue, that it sits a short distance behind the tip of your tongue, and that the piercing remain in front of your lingual frenulum (the webbing beneath your tongue). Proper placement will ensure that your piercing rests comfortably in your mouth. Body Manipulations warns that if your lingual frenulum extends too far forward and the piercing is done too close to the tip of your tongue, the balls may cause damage to your teeth. Before clamping your tongue for the piercing, your piercer should check the bottom of your tongue to see if your lingual frenulum will prevent proper placement for your piercing.
Tongue piercings are done with a straight 14-gauge barbell. Montana Body Art notes that the initial barbell length (from ball to ball) is 3/4 inch (19mm) and should later be changed to 5/8 inch (16mm) once the initial swelling has diminished. Visit your piercer to have the replacement barbell inserted. You can have the piercing stretched to accommodate a larger gauge, but this should only be done by your piercer. Stretching should be delayed until your piercing has completely healed.
The healing time frame for body piercings largely depends upon placement in the body. With proper aftercare, a tongue piercing can take between three and six weeks to fully heal. Until your piercing has completely healed, you should not change the jewelry.
Properly caring for your new piercing will promote faster healing and overall comfort. To help reduce swelling, suck on ice chips or eat Italian ice for the first few days. Clean your mouth after eating or drinking anything, with the exception of water. If you smoke, wash out your mouth after smoking. The Association of Professional Piercers suggests rinsing five times a day with an antimicrobial or antibacterial alcohol-free mouthwash. Do not over-clean your piercing, however, as this may cause irritation and lead to an infection.
If your tongue does not stop swelling after the first few days, the piercing has torn a larger hole, or the barbell is migrating (your body is pushing the jewelry out) consult your piercer at once. If you are concerned you may have an infection, do not remove the piercing until you have seen your piercer. If you are unable to go to the shop and need immediate attention, consult your primary care physician or a walk-in clinic.
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