Today we will look at the perceived meaning of tongue piercing and discuss some of the risks associated with this body modification art. We have also included various tongue piercing pictures to help you make your decision. And most importantly, we have highlighted how to hide that piercing when you don’t want it to be seen.
Tongue Piercing Meaning
The society tend to give a connotation to various ways and decisions that people behave in and make. This is particularly true of matters dressing and personal grooming and beauty.
The arguments also tend to vary from one society to the other with what some societies see as a common practice being interpreted to mean something different in other societies. In the light of this, you may want to know, “What is tongue piercing for?”
We sought to find out if there is any other reason for tongue piercing beyond just making a fashion statement.
To start with, there is a section of people who hold the school of thought that tongue piercings make – and are indeed intended to make – the piercee better at giving oral sex (or “blow job” if you like).
In this regard, girls with tongue piercing are taken to like and to be better at giving oral sex – some women also report better cunnilingus experience when working out with men with pierced tongues – while their men counterparts are seen as gays.
This is not necessarily true. Of course there are many men – including gay men – who go for it just for the sake of getting better at satisfying their partners, but that is not the only reason that people go for this body art form.
Another reason why people, both men and women, go for tongue piercings is aesthetics. There are many people who get pierced just to make a fashion statement. Others are attracted to the semi-private, or semi-private if you like, appeal of tongue piercings; being visible only to people with whom you have an audience and/or to who you are willing to show off your new “kid”.
Tongue piercings also holds a religious and ritual meaning among some cultures. A Central Australian tribe called Aranda, for example, still keeps the practice which is usually done to mark the initiation of shaman.
Other possible meanings of tongue piercing are brevity (being able to face your fear) and transition through different stages of life. All said and done, different people and societies have different reasons for getting their tongues pierced, and it is not necessarily something to do with oral sex as is widely viewed among some quarters.
History of Tongue Piercing
The history of tongue piercing extends to as far back as the ancient times during which it was practiced by Aztec and Maya cultures – in the Mesoamerican region – as a way to honor their gods.
Commonly practiced by priest, the idea behind this practice was blood-letting and pain infliction. Islamic Fakirs and Sufis in the Asian region also practiced tongue piercing as an offering to their deities. Aboriginal Australians also practiced this form of body piercing even though their reasons are not well documented.
In this traditional sense, tongue piercing was more of a temporary body modification as opposed to permanent modification that is the hallmark of modern tongue piercing.
It is not until the 20th century that the practice started to gain popularity among carnies in the western world, particularly in America and Europe. Tattoo Samy’s (a German artist) tongue piercing in 1978 could just as well have been the lead into the contemporary wide acceptance of tongue piercing as a body modification art, starting in the 1980s. Tongue piercing now ranks fourth among body piercings as Northwestern University says.
Increased availability of high quality surgical steel barbells may also have played a part in the growing popularity of tongue piercings, which are erroneously referred to as tongue rings at times, even though rings are hardly used as the jewelry for piercings on the tongue.
Tongue Piercing Benefits
Knowing and understanding the pros and cons is the best way to make an objective judgment. We have already covered the cons of tongue piercings in another section of this article (tongue piercing risks).
As for tongue piercing benefits, aesthetic appeal of this body modification art is the most important one. It is what most people are attracted to.
There are also people who swear to the pleasure-enhancing effects of tongue piercing. It is however very unlikely that anyone could get a tongue piercing exclusively for this reason – at least that is our opinion.
Tongue Piercing Pictures
Now that you know what tongue piercing could potentially mean to the people around and have had a glimpse into some of the pros and cons, how about viewing a gallery of tongue piercing pictures.
If that sounds like an interesting idea, then you are in for a real treat as we have compiled a list of tongue piercing images from around the web to inspire you on the kind of results and outcomes you can expect should you make the begin decision to go for it. Here we go:
Tongue piercing pictures 1
This picture shows a piercee with multiple piercings and different colored pieces of piercing jewelry.
Tongue piercing pictures 2
Here is another picture showing a lady with a double tongue piercing to which barbells have been inserted.
Infected tongue piercing
This photo shows an infected tongue piercing. Notice the green discoloration which is indicative of presence of pus; a classic sign of infection. The importance of observing proper aftercare measures cannot be overemphasized.
How to Do a Tongue Piercing
Now that we have discussed the meaning of tongue piercing and looked into some of the benefits, let us now explain how to do a tongue piercing just in case you are sold to the idea of having one:
To reduce chances of infections and other complications, it is advisable to get the piercing done at a professional studio. With proper equipment and care, and a little courage though, you can still pierce your tongue at home without any problems.
Choosing the Right Tongue Piercing Equipment
It is imperative that you get the job done with the right tools to ensure quick healing and minimize chances of infections.
To start with, the needle (or cannula) and barbell used for the job must be sterilized. There are commercial kits nowadays and you will in particular want to check those out. For the needles, you should avoid using regular needles and instead use those specifically made to be used for piercings.
The barbell to be initially inserted until the wound has healed need to be long enough to allow room for the swelling that occur as the piercing heals. You will then change to a shorter barbell after 4 weeks or so of healing. 14 gauge is the standard tongue piercing gauge and is the recommended size for both the barbell and the needle (or cannula).
Here is the full list of the items you will need for the purpose:
- 14-gauge sterilized piercing needle or cannula
- 14-gauge sterilized steel barbell
- Surgical forceps
- Surgical gloves
- Non-alcoholic mouthwash
- Cotton wool
Steps To Pierce the Tongue
Below is the list of the steps you will need to take to pierce the tongue. You should be able to follow along on your own, more so with the help of a mirror, but getting the hand of a friend or relative is as well not a bad idea:
- Sterilize the equipment with alcohol: Rub the barbell, needle, and the forceps with alcohol to ensure that they are free of germs.
- Clean your mouth: Start by brushing your teeth, then swish it with an antibacterial or non-alcoholic mouthwash.
- Prepare your hands: Now ensure optimum hands hygiene by cleaning them again with soap and water before sterilizing them with a hand sanitizer. Finish by wearing a clean pair of latex gloves.
- Determine the piercing spot: There are a couple veins running beneath your tongue that you this should avoid piercing. Examine them to determine a safe spot between them where piercing would not be risky. You may want to use a marker to make a small dot in the appropriate spot.
- Get your surgical forceps in place such that the forceps clamp is located on the precise location where the piercing can safely be placed. This should be far back enough from the tip of the tongue and between the two veins mentioned in the previous point.
- Pierce the tongue: Now it is the time to get things rolling. Jab the needle across the tongue straight and firm. Apply enough pressure so that the needle (or cannula) goes through in one stroke. For solid piercing needles, most people prefer to work from top to bottom, but for cannulated needles, bottom-top approach is preferred more.
- Get the barbell in place: Before the needle goes completely through the pierced hole to emerge on the opposite side of the tongue, push it to the side a bit to create room for the barbell, and then stick it into the hole. Once the barbell is in place, pull the piercing needle out
- Fasten the barbell: now secure the barbell into its new home (for the next 4 weeks or so) by screwing the tightening ball to the lower tip. Fasten the ball enough to be comfortable on your tongue yet tight enough to hold the barbell in place.
- Clean your mouth: Finish by wiping any blood from your tongue with a clean cotton wool before rinsing your mouth with a non-alcoholic mouthwash. Tech 2000 and Biotene are very popular among piercers.
- Give yourself a pat on the back that you have been able to do a tongue piercing yourself.
Not all you need to do is take proper aftercare to enhance the healing process. Once the piercing has healed considerably, you can then change to a smaller barbell. It is generally safe to change the barbell after 4 weeks even though some people do it in as low as 2 weeks.
How to Hide a Tongue Piercing
While a tongue piercing looks cool – or at least some people find it to be – it might not resonate well with your parents, school administration, or your boss. They might have different opinions altogether. Now what if there was a way to hide a tongue piercing from parents or at school?
Well, there indeed, is. Here are a few tips that can help to make your piercing less visible if not hide it altogether:
- Use the right type of piercing jewelry: If you are one of those people I see asking how to hide a tongue piercing ring, then you have already got it wrong or are headed in the wrong direction. A ring is not only harder to hide but is also not recommended for tongue piercings. Barbells are the way to go.
- Use a flesh colored barbell: A piercing jewelry that is as close to the color of your tongue as possible is obviously less visible. The Piercology website recommends starting out with a flesh-colored top dome. This will cost you a bit more, but it’s a worth every last cent in as far as hiding that darn thing from workmates or parents is concerned.
- Change to a shorter barbell after healing. As we have already mentioned, the barbell you first use is and should be large enough to allow room for swollen tongue. Although not an option for those looking to learn how to hide a tongue piercing when you first get it, changing to a shorter barbell once the wound has healed helps to makes it less visible.
- Limit your mouth movement: Talking or eating with your mouth wide open and laughing openly will give you away. Don’t suppress your talking unnecessarily though, just limit how wide you open your mouth and tilt your head up or down as necessary.
- Limit your contact with the person you are avoiding: This could be your boss, your parents, workmates, or school administration. You may even want to take a day off if the swelling on your tongue makes it hard for you to speak normally.
- Wear a retainer: Retainers are clear-colored plastic jewelry that are intended for use when it is not possible to put on the normal jewelry. Once your piercing has healed, consider wearing a retainer to work or school if you are concerned your boss, teachers etc. may see the tongue piercing.
Tongue Piercing Risks
You need to be aware of tongue piercing risks before you go for the needle so to speak. This will better prepare you to handle the healing process as well as the subsequent post-healing stage properly. Cases of piercees developing mild to serious tongue piercing complications are not unheard of. This is especially likely if proper aftercare measures are not adopted during the healing stage.
As one of the primary risks associated with tongue piercings, and indeed all piercings particularly those that involves the mouth, infections are among the tongue piercing facts that simply cannot be overlooked.
Infection alone, tongue piercings may also cause teeth problems most common one being the erosion of tooth enamel as a result of frequent scratching by the jewelry.
This tends to occur more in patients who unknowingly or by habit keep running their jewelry against the rear side of their teeth. Some patients have even reportedly cracked their teeth for this reason.
Also ranking among the most significant tongue piercing dangers is recession of gums; yes you can develop receding gums as a result of repeated pushing of the front teeth by the jewelry in the piercing. With all these dental concerns, it comes as a no surprise that most dentists are on the other side of the ridge; with no sweet words to say about tongue piercing.
Tongue piercing can also affect how the pierce chew and speak and cases of people developing hypersensitive to metals after getting this body modification art are not unheard of. There is also the inherent risk of excessive bleeding if any of the major blood vessels in the tongue are accidentally nicked.
Tongue piercing teeth problems can be minimized by strategically placing the hole such that it inclines backwards and does not nick any of the major blood vessels. Consequently, the jewelry used will be inclined backwards and thus have minimal touch with the teeth.
You have also probably heard the myth of tongue piercing death as a result of piercer sticking the needle into the wrong nerve, but it is just that; a myth. Tongue piercings come with various risks but death, at least in the nerve pricking perspective, is not one of them.
It is also common to develop what people as a “white tongue” during the healing process of a tongue piercing. This is attributed to the production of white blood cells and is nothing to be worried about; if proper aftercare measures are observed, you should be just fine.
There is also the risk of excessive bleeding if one of the two large veins beneath your tongue are pierced. This should however not be a problem if proper care is taken as described in the section on “how to do a tongue piercing”.