Different Tongue Piercings: A Comprehensive Guide

From ancient Mayan and Aztec rituals to the counterculture of the 90s, from kink and eroticism communities to the top globally known celebrities, tongue piercing has made its way throughout history. There are many reasons why people get tongue rings, some for public and some for private.

While most people are familiar with the standard tongue piercing, did you know that it’s possible to pierce anywhere on your tongue? Tongue piercings can be placed anywhere from the tip, the midline, and the non-midline.

Are you considering getting your tongue pierced? It’s important to consider all the different piercings and placements. Check out our comprehensive guide to help you pick which one best fits the look you’re going for and important safety considerations to consider before you see your favorite piercer.

Traditional Tongue Piercing

When most people think of a tongue piercing, they envision this: it is placed centrally on the tongue along the medium lingual septum, the scientific term for the connective tissue between the tongue's muscles. Because of this, piercers refer to this type of tongue piercing as a midline tongue piercing.

Traditional Tongue Piercing

Fortunately, your mouth heals quickly because of your saliva and mucous membranes, meaning your tongue piercing shouldn’t take too long to heal. The average time is about eight weeks.

In terms of jewelry, only straight barbells are appropriate for this piercing.

Alternative Tongue Piercing Placements

Double or Multiple Tongue Piercings

Also known as the slang term angel bites, double tongue piercings are placed in a row in the center of the tongue, with one in front of the other. If your anatomy allows, you can get more than two midline tongue piercings in a row.

Double Tongue Piercings

These hurt more than getting one piercing done because your tongue will swell more, and multiple piercings are performed in the same general area of your tongue.

Much like midline tongue piercings, you can only wear straight barbells in these.

Paired Vertical Tongue Piercings

Paired tongue piercings, often called by their slang name venom piercings, refer specifically to two vertical tongue piercings and not to horizontal tongue piercings. Paired tongue piercings are considered a safe alternative to horizontal tongue piercings.

Venom piercings are a set of paired tongue piercings that go vertically through the muscle on either side of the medium lingual septum. You can have them sit perfectly vertically or angle inward regarding placement and positioning. Some piercers prefer the slightly angled placement because it helps prevent the jewelry from resting against your gums, which can cause gum erosion.

Because these paired piercings go through the muscle, your tongue will swell up and remain swollen for longer. After the initial piercing, you can expect your tongue to stay swollen for up to two weeks. Therefore, the healing process takes a month to two or more months.

Additionally, for the safety of the piercing and your oral health, this is a piercing where properly downsizing your jewelry after the initial swelling period is extremely important.

While you’re initially pierced with a longer straight barbell to accommodate for the swelling, you will need to downsize the length of the barbell to help prevent you from:

  • Biting down on the end piece and chipping your tooth
  • Lisping or other speech impediments from the oversized jewelry
  • Experiencing gum erosion

In terms of pain, this piercing is up there on the pain scale. Because of the placement through the muscle and the fact that it’s two piercings, it will hurt more than a standard tongue piercing.

Tongue Tip Piercing

While rare, tongue tip piercings are placed anywhere within the first half inch of the tongue.

Tongue tip piercings hurt more than midline tongue piercings. Have you ever accidentally bit the tip of your tongue while eating? It’s not fun, and it’s all because of your anatomy. The tip of your tongue contains a larger concentration of nerve endings, which makes it more sensitive.

 Tip Tongue Piercings

One unique thing about the tongue tip piercing is that while you need to wear a straight barbell during the healing process, you can switch to a ring once it fully heals.

What About Horizontal Tongue Piercings?

While horizontal tongue piercings (including snake eye or scoop piercings) exist, they have been purposefully excluded from the list of different tongue piercings you can get. The main reason is that there’s no safe way to get this piercing and have it not result in a decline in oral health. Simply put, horizontal tongue piercings cause gum erosion, enamel erosion, chipped teeth, and speech impediments that could be permanent even after you remove the piercing.

Horizontal tongue piercings also dramatically alter your tongue’s anatomy. The tongue has multiple muscles when you move it around your mouth. When you get a horizontal tongue piercing, the placement often ends up binding these separate muscles together. In addition to a lisp, this results in limited movement and difficulty swallowing food.

While some piercers are willing to perform these piercings (a huge red flag), piercers who follow the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) safety guidelines refuse to do so. Oregon, which has some of the most progressive body piercing laws, completely outlawed this piercing. Four dental organizations have also released statements begging people not to get this piercing.

Tongue Web Piercings: Also Not Recommended

You may have seen a video of someone with a tongue web piercing on TikTok and were immediately drawn to its easily concealable and unique nature. Unfortunately, those are the only positives about this type of piercing.

These days, many professional piercers will try to talk you out of getting this piercing simply because of all it can do to wreak havoc on your oral health.

First and foremost, this piercing is placed right next to your salivary glands. These glands produce saliva, which causes plaque build-up. Therefore, the ends of the jewelry are covered in plaque.

Tongue Web Piercing

Once your jewelry starts to get disgusting, so does your breath. Due to the excess plaque in your mouth, your breath will also stink. Excess plaque causes halitosis, the scientific word for bad breath.

Additionally, the tongue web tissue is very thin, which makes these piercings more susceptible to migration or rejection.

While tongue web piercings aren’t technically unsafe, and piercers are willing to do them, it’s crucial to consider the risk factors before you decide to go through with the piercing.

If you decide to proceed, these piercings are done with curved barbells or captive bead rings.

What to Discuss with Your Piercer

During your appointment, your piercer will discuss the type of tongue piercing you want, jewelry options, safety, and aftercare. Because tongue piercings are anatomy-dependent, your piercer will also assess your mouth, including your tongue, teeth, tongue webbing, and more.

One thing to consider when deciding which type of tongue piercing you want is that not all tongues have the space and size to accommodate multiple piercings.

Be sure to discuss important factors in your decision-making with your piercer, such as ease of concealment, desire for multiple piercings, and plans to stretch.

Are you looking for information on the healing process and aftercare? Check out our detailed page: Tongue Piercing Information & Aftercare.

Start Picking Out Jewelry

If you’re already in the giddy and excited stages over your idea to get your tongue pierced, why not start looking into jewelry you can get? Urban Body Jewelry is home to one of the largest collections of tongue piercing jewelry online.

Browse through different curved and straight barbells, select from various materials, from steel to 14-karat gold, and even pick out ends to go with your overall vibe.