Tongue piercing has over the past decade become a much more common and popular piercing, encompassing all aspects of society. Tongue piercings are one of the very few piercings that are strictly a modern phenomenon as opposed to virtually all other piercings which can trace their origins to an ancient indigenous population, where the meanings were both hierarchal and/or ceremonial. Tongue piercings can vary drastically depending on the individual’s anatomy, ranging from very easy, comfortable and fast healing to difficult, uncomfortable initially and comparatively slower healing. The anatomy of any given persons tongue is vastly dissimilar, depending on the size and shape of the tongue web (the small stringy part under the tongue that connects the tongue to the inner mouth) in addition to the location of veins on the underside of the tongue.
An experienced professional body piercer will rarely have a client whose tongue is not suitable to be pierced, however there are always exceptions. The initial piercing should always be done using an oversized barbell with large balls in order to compensate for initial swelling which can range from minimal to extreme for at least the first five days to two weeks. Another once to two weeks should be allowed after the initial swelling has gone down before downsizing the jewellery as just the act of removing and re-inserting jewellery can irritate the piercing and cause the swelling to increase. After the piercing clients are encouraged to try to eat and talk as normal behaviour will lessen the overall time it takes to adjust to having a tongue piercing.
Many people however may be limited to soft foods for the first several days until the swelling starts to come down. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen can drastically reduce the time it takes to reduce the initial swelling. Aside from using anti-inflammatory drugs, aftercare and overall healing time for a tongue piercing are particularly fast, given the fact that the tongue is a muscle with an amazing physiological recovery time. Basic aftercare for tongue piercing is a simple a matter of regularly using a non-alcoholic mouthwash in the morning and evening, as well as after any meals, with the addition of a once or twice daily rinse of ½ teaspoon of sea salt in a coffee cup of warm water to expedite the healing. The initial jewellery, which is always oversized to compensate for swelling can usually be downsized after three to four weeks.