Many facial piercings are more contemporary in nature, and the tongue piercing fall into this category as well. You don’t see this piercing in tribal cultures, you see it being worn by middle-class American college students, rock musicians and porn stars. For some people this is an easy piercing and for others it can be difficult. It takes a bit of forethought to have a comfortable tongue piercing.
Tongues are primarily pierced down the center, somewhere in mid-tongue, with a barbell being the primary style of jewelry worn in this piercing. What you wind up with is a small ball on the top and bottom of the tongue with the bar connecting them vertically through the middle of the tissue. Tongues are muscular and a lot of people say that biting your tongue accidentally with your teeth is more painful than piercing with a needle.
One very important factor to consider when getting your tongue pierced is the alignment of the jewelry and your teeth. The piercing should be set back far enough on the tongue to not be in constant contact with the backs of the teeth. Friction of the steel jewelry over time has been known to wear off enamel, and tongue piercees who like to “picket fence” their jewelry along the insides of their teeth will soon get reports of chipping and major damage from their dentists. Plastic balls on the ends of the barbells can greatly reduce chipping. Too far forward and your speech will be affected, the jewelry colliding with the teeth as the tongue makes certain vocal shapes in the front of the mouth.
One of the biggest factors for success is oral hygiene and healing routine. Your mouth has to be as healthy as it can and you have to be ready to take care of the piercing rather strictly for four to six weeks. The first week you have to be prepared to have your speech affected and to have eating border on hellish. Tongues swell up after piercing and you have to be ready to deal with this.
Healing is best if you plan for a starter piece of jewelry that is at least 1/4” longer than your tongue is thick. Talk with your body piercer about this. You will want to wear this barbell for the first two weeks or so until the swelling goes down in your tongue, then switch to a size that is more appropriate for not interfering with talking and eating over the long term. You will need to gargle several times a day in order to cleanse the piercing and your piercer will recommend which oral hygiene products to use. Sucking on ice is a basic way to help with swelling, but watch out as the barbell will get colder than the rest of the inside of your mouth.
To learn more about piercing, you might like Body Piercing: A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, And Annotated Research Guide To Internet References by Icon Health Publications.
For body piercing aftercare, you might like Tattoo Goo Deluxe Tattoo & Piercing Care Kit or X-Pression & Blue Wave Piercing Aftercare Kit