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In order to ensure a safe and quick healing process after your tongue piercing, you'll need to do an oral rinse three times a day, or after every meal. For three to six weeks, use a medical-grade oral rinse for at least 30 to 60 seconds. If you have trouble finding a medical-grade rinse, dilute 4 oz. oral antiseptic in 4 oz. water and rinse with that. Do not use a regular mouthwash, as this will do nothing to clean your tongue piercing.
Also, be sure to brush your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush three times a day. Gently scrub the ball and pin of your tongue jewelry to avoid plaque build-up on the jewelry.
Tongue rings come in a wide variety of styles. From multi-colored balls to flat metal studs to vibrating bullets, you can choose pretty much any tongue ring to suit your mood.
One of the most novel types of tongue jewelry is glow stick tongue rings. Just insert one of five sticks through the tip of the ring in five different color choices: red, pink, green, blue, or purple. If you're a more flashy piercee, you might opt for the battery-powered flashing tongue ring. This jewel lights up and flashes in your mouth. A perfect party trick!
There are quite a few myths out there as to what will or can happen when tongue piercings go bad. Most of them are false or overstated. Here are a few myths we can clear up:
You will not bleed to death from a botched tongue ring. Piercers will not attempt to pierce a tongue that has a blood vessel too close to where they have to pierce.
Tongue rings do not make it harder for dentists to work on you. They may caution you about the damage tongue rings can do to your teeth's enamel, but aside from that they are not in the way for any routine care.
Tongue piercings do not leave big gaping holes in your tongue once you remove the jewelry. In fact, a tongue piercing will heal much faster than other piercings do when you remove the ring, and rarely leave noticeable scars.
For something a little more exotic than your typical tongue ring, some people are going for a new type of mouth piercing: the frenulum.
The frenulum is the little web of skin that attaches your tongue to the lower portion of your mouth. Not everyone can get this area pierced, as some people do not have enough skin there to get jewelry through. Also, this area is rarely seen by other people, so it's not exactly a "show-off" type piercing. But it's an option for those who want a different tongue ring from the rest.
Care and healing times are similar to that of a regular tongue piercing, but check with your piercer. Unfortunately, not all piercers and shops are very familiar with frenulum piercing yet, so make sure to ask your piercer about this procedure prior to deciding on the piercing.
There are a few choices to make when you get your tongue pierced, such as the width of the bar that's going to be through your tongue, and the length.
Tongues are rarely pierced with anything skinnier than a 12 ga barbell, as there is a larger chance of thetongue ring tearing the area or slipping around in the piercing. You can, however, choose to go up to the width of an 8 ga barbell, which is quite thick. Of course, you will experience more pain with the larger gauges.
The length of the barbell used will depend with the size of your tongue, and usually will be between 3/4" to 7/8". After the swelling goes down and initial healing period ends, you can have your piercer change your jewelry to a shorter barbell if you wish.
Vibrating tongue rings are a novelty item in the tongue ring family. They are made to wear only on occasion and not designed for every day use. These comfortable, battery operated rings tend to bring a "stimulation" to tongue ring wearers.
With the use of cutting edge technology and engineering, along with specially designed vibrating tongue ring batteries, these “instruments" can go at full power for 45-60 minutes (of course it depends on the level of "stress" placed on them during use).
As far as the purpose of the vibrating tongue ring, we leave that entirely up to you.
Aftercare instructions should be thoroughly explained by the piercer. By law they are required to give you written instructions to follow after an oral piercing process. Aftercare is crucial to the healing of your tongue piercing.
Combating risks and infections should start with the piercer using the proper precautions including sterile tools, needles and jewelry.
When the procedure is finished it is up to the individual to follow aftercare guidelines, which include:
Using ant microbial alcohol-free mouth rinses and sea salt rinses.
Not sharing plates, eating utensils, cup etc with other individuals.
Replacing your toothbrush and making sure to keep it extra clean during the healing time.
Keeping dirty fingers, pencils, sunglasses, and other foreign objects away from your mouth.
Avoid playing with the tongue ring, excessive talking and any oral contact.
Swelling should be minimal and there should be little or no bleeding. If you have excessive swelling or bleeding then you need to seek the advice and help of a professional and/or medical doctor.
Proper placement for a tongue ring is critical.
With any type of oral piercing you run the risk of nerve damage, infection or even worse. The piercee can suffer unnecessary pain and discomfort if the procedure and placement is not done correctly.
Here are some guidelines for traditional placement of a tongue piercing:
Place the tongue ring along the midline of the tongue, basically in the center of the mouth.
The tongue piercing should be approximately 3/4” or so back from the tip of the tongue.
Tongue rings are commonly placed with the top a little further back than the bottom
(This essentially allows the top of the jewelry to lean back slightly, away from the teeth, and towards the higher part of the upper palate where there is more room in the mouth).
The tounge ring is placed just in front of the attachment of the lingual frenulum, which is the web under the tongue.
Professional piercing is strongly recommended when getting your tongue pierced. Make sure your piercer is experienced and certified, don't trust just anyone to perform the procedure.
A tongue piercing typically takes 3-4 weeks of healing time. Every individual is different - some may heal faster and some make take longer to heal completely.
Tongue ring fashion has evolved from just a few options to many tongue ring styles and material. High quality tongue jewelry should be made of certain metals including 14 K gold, implant grade stainless steel and Titanium, Pyrex glass, FDA approved acrylic and dental acrylic.
A tongue ring is typically shaped like a barbell with a straight bar and balls on the ends. You can get half balls, balls with stripes and patterns or charm shaped balls. The rings come in different sized threads.
Your piercer should have determined the size you need for your tongue size and thickness. You need to wear the right size of ring to ensure a comfortable fit and prevent structural damage in your mouth.
In order to reduce the risks associated with oral piercing and possible structural damage it is important to use the appropriate size of jewelry. Complications can arise if the jewelry is inappropriately sized, not placed properly, or poorly manufactured.
Here are some things to consider before a tongue piercing:
Select the correct style of jewelry for the particular anatomy and determine proper placement.
Be sure the jewelry is accurately sized to the area. Longer jewelry is used initially to allow for usual swelling should be replaced with a shorter piece after swelling has dissipated. The shorter piece has less chance of harmfully impacting the teeth and other oral structures.
Use only surgical implant grade jewelry- See accepted APP Minimum Jewelry Standards for a detailed list of jewelry material and design specifications.
Acrylic balls can be worn on tongue barbells to minimize the risk of damage to the teeth.
Check that the threaded ends are on securely. Tighten them each day so that the jewelry stays in place.
Smaller balls should be worn on the underside of the tongue to reduce contact with the sublingual portion of the oral cavity.
Piercees should be aware and strongly cautioned that excessively touching and playing with the jewelry is frequently the cause of reported tooth and gum damage. Therefore it should be avoided.
Follow aftercare instructions everyday. Oral piercing is more prone to infection and the damage could be permanent.
Smoking and tongue rings really don't mix. You should avoid smoking directly after getting your tongue pierced, as the tar and other chemicals in the cigarette smoke can cause infection and slow healing.
Additionally, some people may find smoking uncomfortable for their new piercing, as the tongue is very sensitive after having a barbell put through it. At the very least try to stop smoking for a few weeks while the initial healing process is going on.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|