Things You Should Know Before Getting Your Tongue Pierced

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Piercing specialists avoid main arteries that run through the human tongue.
Piercing specialists avoid main arteries that run through the human tongue. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tongue piercings go back in time to ancient tribal rituals of Aztecs and Mayans. Contemporary fads use steel barbells that are inserted into the tongue and later shortened to prevent dental damage. Critics point to risks of infection and cracked teeth, while proponents of oral art extol fashion sense they derive from wearing this accessory. Regardless, things you should know before getting your tongue pierced include mandatory aftercare.

Process

A chief concern among followers of tongue art is how much pain they will endure during the piercing process. The entire procedure is very brief, writes student columnist Kristopher Thornsbury about his personal experience for the Johns Hopkins University News-letter. The piercer places a slice of cork under his patron's tongue, quickly shoves a needle through the tongue and inserts the tiny barbell with a shank through the newly-created hole.

Risks

Several arteries run through the network of muscles inside the tongue, leaving recipients wide open to hemorrhaging if a piercer accidentally punctures any of those veins, warns the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System. Tongue piercings also might lead to transmission of hepatitis strains or a heart valve infection called endocarditis. Tongue jewelry carries risks of recessed gums and tooth loss. In addition, piercing the tongue becomes dangerous because of the multitude of bacteria lurking inside the human mouth.

Aftercare

Swelling reaches its peak the morning after a tongue piercing, says Pacific Body Jewelry website's online aftercare advice. Allow ice slivers to melt on your tongue for about five to 10 minutes to soothe your sore tongue. Continue sipping cold water throughout the day to promote healing. Rinse with a nonalcoholic antibacterial solution, such as Oral-B, to cleanse the pierced spot. Avoid rubbing a toothbrush over the opening to prevent irritation. Some people experience a normal yellow film over their tongues that disappears within several days.

Joys

Supporters of oral jewelry list several benefits among the things you should know before getting your tongue pierced. Sensual pleasures top the listing of reasons, with followers describing the heightened pleasure of kissing someone who wears tongue jewelry, says The Piercer website. In addition, unlike tattoos, tongue accessories are easily removed from a person's mouth to conceal this personal fashion choice from employers or parents. Part of the fun involves selecting from many varieties and shades of jewelry such as barbells, hoops and balls.

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