As well as the tongue, the frenulum and uvula can also be pierced, although this is rare as it is difficult to perform and the jewellery is not usually visible. Lip modification requires the same hygienic aftercare procedures as tongue piercings, but they are considered a separate category.
The most common tongue piercings are a straight vertical barbell through the mid-line of the tongue. This is the third most popular body piercing site, behind the ear and the nostril.
In addition to the standard tongue piercing placement, the tongue can also be pierced through the frenulum linguae underneath the tongue muscle. Sometimes it is pierced multiple times, for instance two piercings side-by-side horizontally or vertically. These are more painful than a piercing through the mid-line of the tongue.
Other possible tongue piercings include a curved bar going through the tip of the tongue horizontally.
Very rarely, some people have dental problems as a result of tongue piercings. However, this is most likely due to improper jewellery. After the initial healing, the barbell should be as short as possible to prevent damage to the teeth, gum, and the tongue piercing itself.
If it is not properly done by a trained professional, there is a risk of nerve damage to the tongue. Infection is a concern for any tongue piercings, but the risk is minimised with proper care. Also, if the jewellery comes loose in the mouth, there is some hazard of choking on it.
When tongue piercings are first done, temporary swelling usually occurs and the jewellery used for this must be long enough to accommodate the initial swelling.
The tongue piercing heals within 2 to 6 weeks, but total healing can take up to 6 months. If the jewellery is removed, even a completely healed tongue piercing can close up entirely in a matter of a few days.
The size of the barbell is extremely important because the tongue moves around vigorously while speaking, swallowing and eating. Jewellery that is too small is more likely to migrate while larger items may cause oral hygiene problems.
The beads on the end of the body jewellery for tongue piercing come in a variety of styles and colours, including styles that make the piercing less visible when it needs to be concealed.