Tongue-Piercing Pros and Cons
Piercings are a long-standing tradition in many cultures, although here in the US many still consider those with piercings that would be considered tame in other cultures to be huge oddities, along with finding them to be potentially dangerous to have done. Those who would argue against having them done make good points, and here are some of them:
- Anywhere you get a piercing, you are breaking skin, and can get an infection
- If the person who's piercing you doesn't know what they're doing, you can be injured (sometimes even if they do know what they're doing)
- Certain piercings are considered ugly and/or unprofessional by some people and can hinder your ability to find a job or be socially accepted in various situations
- Even if your piercing heals correctly, you are still subject to a possible infection in the future, and are leaving yourself vulnerable for someone to pull it out (depending on where it is) if they decide they want to hurt you
I'm sure there are more arguments, but these are the ones that jump out at me.
Some areas are significantly more risky to have pierced than others, and some areas are more or less socially acceptable. One type of piercing that is gaining both popularity and notoriety lately is the tongue piercing.
I have had my tongue pierced, twice. The process went smoothly both times; it didn't hurt any more than when I had my ears pierced, and my tongue did not swell up as much as most people's do. The only reason I had to have it done twice was that after I got it done the first time, I moved and while I was still packed up, the plastic tongue ring I had in broke and I couldn't find another piece of jewelry to put into it before it healed up again. But then, I have always healed quickly from everything, including when I got my wisdom teeth out (with novicaine, not put under), and when I got my bellybutton and ears pierced. I also have a decent tolerance for pain. I do not currently have my tongue pierced, but that's a different (and very long) story, and the reason was not to do with any ill effects from having the piercing.
So why would someone want to have their tongue pierced? I can say that I simply saw friends with it done, wanted to do something wierd and different, and then after I lost my first one, I missed playing with it so when I could afford it, I had it done again (playing with it refers to turning it around in one's mouth when thinking or bored). However, the main implication of having a tongue ring is that it adds an extra sensation when kissing or performing oral sex. I have heard many people attest to this. So, allowing a minor under your care to get their tongue pierced could be sending messages that you may prefer to avoid for the sake of their reputation.
Did it ever hinder me from getting a job? No, but it was never obvious that I had it. If someone gets a tongue ring that causes them to swell up, it can be very obvious. If you are dead set on getting one and you think your employer would frown upon that, take a couple days off to allow yourself to heal properly, or have it done right after work before your weekend. Once it's healed, there are "plugs" you can put in that are clear plastic and butt against the top of your tongue so that they're very difficult to see. However, keep in mind that you are supposed to keep the orginal tongue ring in for a few weeks before changing it, so if you can't hide that shiny silver thing in your mouth for that long you shouldn't do it. You can go to your local piercer and see what options they have for starters, though, they may have something that's not as flashy or large as the standard starter ring.
Does it hurt? Well, for me it was only a little pinch, and then there was a little bit of swelling. That lasted for a few hours and I enjoyed some ice cream to numb it a little bit, which felt interesting with the metal conducting the cold through my tongue. The only thing that really hurt after that was when it caught on my teeth if I started to chew something with reckless abandon; my tongue would be abruptly pulled to the side or front, stretching the not-quite-healed outside of the hole that had been created. After a couple of weeks of rinsing with mouthwash or salt water after I ate or drank anything, though, I was pretty much good to go, and would actually play with it on purpose; yes, the same motions that would give small shooting pains just a week earlier.
Is it safe? Well, everyone's body is different. I heal quickly and always have, and my tongue was the right length and width for the risk of damaging it to be minimized. If you go to a good piercer, they will be able to look at your tongue and tell you if you should or should not pierce your tongue. Either way you are still taking a risk, so you should be aware of that. I'm not going to fill this article with horror stories, however, as I'm sure you can do a google search and come up with plenty of people relating how they lost feeling in their tongue, or couldn't eat for a week because of the swelling and pain, or kept getting infections until they took it out, or worse. These things are possible, but you know your own body and tolerances.
What would I recommend to do if you decide you want to get your tongue pierced? First, if you've never had a piercing before, get your ears or an ear pierced first. It's mainstream enough, inexpensive, and harder to mess up or get infected. If you decide it's way too painful, or it gets seriously swelled up or infected, you should probably not get your tongue pierced, or anything else for that matter.
Second, you should do your research. Talk to friends who have had piercings done, and go online and look at reviews. Do both, not one or the other. Then, when you find a couple of places that look good, visit them to see how clean they are, and be prepared with questions you want to ask. Look at the jewelry, note to yourself if they have any piercings of their own and how they look. If they do have them ask who did their piercings; much like a good cook will taste their own cooking, many piercers will have pierced themself, or will have had it done at the shop they work at. If they had it done elsewhere, that's saying something (unless it was because that was the place they used to work, so make sure to inquire about that). Or, if they had it done there and it looks terrible, that could also tell you something; probably, go somewhere else!
You may decide the first time you visit the shop that you want to do it right then and get it over with. Be aware that this could be a blessing or a curse. Remember that after you have it done, you will have to buy tongue-ring friendly food and drink, and cleaning supplies. Be sure that you're up to that. If not, you should get that stuff first and then go back (be sure to ask the piercer what they would recommend for both sustenance and hygiene). If you are nervous, you may want to just get it over with. Or, you might be so nervous you really aren't ready to do it. If it helps, you can always take it out if you don't like it. Your mouth heals more quickly than much of the rest of your body. However, only you can decide what's right for you. If you are so nervous that you feel you might throw up for example (very bad because the possibility of infection is greater), you should not go through with it.
Keep in mind that if you do go through with it, you have to take good care of it even after it's healed. Be mindful that playing with it too much and with the wrong hardware can damage your teeth. Also remember that it can still get infected if it somehow rips at your tongue. Get quality jewelry made from safe materials and reputable vendors. Some plastics leach toxins, especially if you chew on them. Some materials react poorly with certain types of food. The screws on cheap jewelry that keep a tongue ring held together can get loose easily and you might end up swallowing something, and over-used plastic can break, so keep a spare with you if you don't want your hole to close up accidentally.
Remember that people may get the wrong idea about you if you flash it around to everyone; you may not want everyone to think that you're available for that type of pleasure (on the other hand, maybe you do, but at least be aware that that is the message you're sending).
With all of that said, I hope this readies you to make your decision about getting your tongue pierced, or at least puts you in a better position to know where to start with the decision-making process. If you are reading this to try and decide if you should allow a minor to have it done, apologize to them for me because I've probably caused you to tell them no. Oh, well, they will be eighteen someday and then they can decide for themself...maybe you will let them pierce their ears instead!