Gauge, Material and Style: Everything You Need to Know in Selecting the Perfect Tongue Ring

Tongue rings are popular for many reasons. They’re stylish and edgy, adding an element of surprise to your piercing repertoire. Because tongue piercings have a peek-a-boo style, finding the perfect tongue ring can be even more exciting.

When it comes to body jewelry, you can choose something more reserved if that’s how you feel like expressing yourself. Or, you can choose something that’s bright and colorful (we won’t judge!). The point is—the world is your oyster when it comes to selecting the perfect tongue ring.

Tongue piercings are more than just a cosmetic fad, however. The practice started thousands of years ago with the ancient Aztec and Mayan people who pierced their tongues to honor their gods and show one’s dedication to the practice. Today, the tongue piercing has permeated modern culture, specifically that of Westernized countries like America, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

But because this piercing is in a precarious location—the mouth—it’s important to make sure your tongue ring is a perfect fit…literally and figuratively.

In this blog, we’ll provide an overview of tongue piercings, how to choose your jewelry, and what styles are available based on the look you’re going for.

A Brief Overview of Tongue Piercings

At face value, piercing the tongue is similar to any other body piercing. The piercer takes a needle, pushes it through tissue (the tongue, in this case), and secures the jewelry in place. Bada bing, bada boom. But as mentioned previously, piercing the tongue comes with nuances and complexities that other piercing locations don’t have.

First, the mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. The piercer should take that into consideration while prepping your tongue to be pierced. Check out our guide to the tongue piercing healing process to learn more about keeping the area clean.

Next, the tongue is constantly moving and is difficult to keep still. This is why your piercer will use a pair of forceps—to hold the tongue in place and stop any involuntary movements during the process.

You also want to pay close attention to the placement of the tongue piercing. Most piercees choose a midline piercing, which is right in the center of the tongue. Others choose to offset the piercing if they plan to have more than one tongue piercing. As long as you’re seeing a professional piercer, they will ensure the piercing is in the right spot based on your desire.

As far as jewelry goes, a straight barbell is the most commonly used type for tongue piercings, valued for its straight forward design that minimizes discomfort and potential complications during the healing process. .

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Tongue Ring

Gauge Size

When it comes to body piercings, you’ll see the word “gauge” everywhere, often abbreviated as “G”. In this context, “gauge” refers to the thickness of metal. What’s important to note is that the larger the number, the thinner (or smaller) the jewelry.

Tongue Ring Sizes

When you first get your tongue pierced, your piercer will use a standard 14-gauge needle to start. That means the jewelry will be 14G, too. The right tongue ring gauge size ensures the piercing will have plenty of room to heal and move naturally with your tongue’s natural movements. When the healing process is complete and you’d like to change your jewelry, continue to search for 14G jewelry.


There are lots of tongue ring materials and options. Because the mouth is a complex bodily environment, there are two optimal metals for tongue rings: surgical steel and titanium.

Surgical Steel

is both durable, affordable, and biocompatible, meaning that it won’t harm living tissue. That makes it a good choice for your tongue piercing jewelry. However, if you’re prone to metal allergies, surgical steel can present some problems.

For example, surgical steel could contain a small amount of nickel that can cause irritation if you’re particularly sensitive.

In this case, titanium tongue rings are the optimal choice. Key features of titanium are that it’s lightweight, comfortable, and biocompatible like surgical steel, except that it doesn’t contain other alloys that may cause an allergic reaction. Titanium is also used medically for surgical implants, making it a reputable metal for use in the body…like a tongue piercing!

Anodized Titanium Barbell

Not to mention, titanium can be anodized, providing a myriad of different color options to choose from if silver just isn’t your style.

Style and Design

There are endless styles and designs for tongue piercings. Here are the styles we commonly see:

Straight Barbells

Barbell tongue rings are the most classic option. A straight barbell has a ball at either end that can twist off for easy removal. You can choose different decorative ends, such as stars, hearts, animals, gemstones…the list truly goes on and on. This affords an opportunity to bring in some of your personal style and flair. Isn’t that why we get pierced in the first place?

As discussed previously, 14G is the perfect size, but you should also pay attention to the length. At first, your piercer will choose a ⅞” barbell to give the piercing enough wiggle room to heal. Once it’s healed, you can opt for shorter barbells, such as ⅝”, if your anatomy allows it. Consult with your local professional piercer for a more in-depth look at your tongue anatomy.

Tips for Selecting the Perfect Tongue Ring

Here are some sure-fire ways to make sure your tongue piercing process goes as smoothly as possible:

Do Your Due Diligence

The piercing studio you choose should be reputable. Ensure it’s up to code and is taking the proper health precautions so as to not spread bacteria or other bodily fluids. Piercings are open wounds and should be treated as such by your piercer and yourself.

Consider Size and Length

While you might not get to choose the gauge size of your initial piercing, you can request a longer barbell to ensure your healing process goes smoothly. When in doubt, talk to your piercer about your options!

Matching Your Aesthetic

After the healing process is complete, you can start having fun with jewelry options. From gold tongue rings to a straight barbell with decorative ends, you should always take your personal style into consideration.

24kt Gold Titanium Barbell

For example, if you’re all about bright colors, you can choose a titanium barbell that has several color options to choose from.

Selecting the perfect tongue ring comes with a lot of considerations—from gauge and length to color and stye. But in our opinion, they’re totally worth thinking through before getting your tongue pierced. That way, you can be fully ready to enjoy your new piercing and all the complexities that come with it. But no matter what you choose, Urban Body Jewelry has a wide portfolio of tongue rings to suit any style.