The truth about tongue piercings

It might not be the '90s anymore, but tongue piercings are still cool, even if we don't necessarily see them in pop culture as much these days. The tongue piercing feels more extreme because it's there, in your mouth, all the time (if you're reading this and you have a tongue piercing, you're definitely playing with the jewelry right now).

There have been rumors for years about the negative effects tongue piercings have on our teeth and general oral health, as well as the typical horror stories about tongue jewelry being swallowed and eventually... resurfacing. If you're considering getting your tongue pierced, there's some important info to consider first.

Tongue piercings don't hurt that much

Cosmopolitan nabbed Brian Skellie, medical liaison and former president of the Association of Professional Piercing, to discuss tongue piercings which, he noted, remain the most popular non-ear piercings over the past 25 years. They are also equally common in men and women. 

Tongue piercings require more follow-up appointments than other piercings, with Skellie noting that most patrons get used to the new jewelry within a few days (that first moment when you feel the jewelry in your mouth is going to be super weird, though). "Usually within two or four weeks, we can have a follow up visit for shortening the jewelry, and within another month, the area has solidified," he explained.

Longer jewelry is used at first for safety (in case of swelling, which is normal after a new piercing), but it has to be switched out to a shorter piece, which helps prevent damage to the teeth or gums. "Jewelry that fits flush will protect your teeth and gums from damage and just looks and feels better," Skellie said. You'll start to feel healed in about a week, but it'll take about a year for the area to fully stabilize.

The healing process for tongue piercings is fairly easy

The tongue piercing is actually one of the least painful ones to get, too —  the most painful piercing you can get is located much further south, and even areas that might seem "easy," such as a helix piercing along the ear cartilage, still hurt pretty badly, too.  "It has been told to me countless times that it was much easier than biting the tongue and often the easiest piercing that a person has ever had," Skellie revealed. You can expect to feel a pinch, but ice cubes and rinsing your mouth with cold water will help ease the pain afterward.

Eating should be fine, as long as you take your time. However, Skellie recommends that you avoid spicy, acidic, very salty, or crunchy foods while healing, as these could irritate the new piercing and cause further swelling. Always rinse your mouth out with water after eating, too. Harsh toothpaste and mouthwash can also irritate the piercing. Likewise, kissing may lead to infection while healing.

Otherwise, your tongue piercing should be an easy one to heal, provided you don't take it out during the process (it'll close up immediately if you do). A first-person account in Bustle confirms as such, while also noting how discreet it is compared to other facial piercings, along with the minor changes to speech and dexterity over time.