One very popular oral piercing is the tongue ring. It’s easy to conceal, easy to maintain and possibly very fun in sexual situations. Since a tongue piercing uses two very popular jewelry types, the barbell and captive bead ring, attractive jewelry is simple to obtain. However, tongue piercing jewelry does carry a bit of risk, with a high likelihood of dental damage from prolonged wear.
What Sort of Tongue Piercings Are There?
There are two types of tongue piercing techniques. The piercer chooses the jewelry depending on position and preference. The most popular is the dorsoventral piercing, which is a vertical hole through the tongue. According to Fred Balzac of the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, “The piercing is commonly made in the middle of the tongue and requires the avoidance of major blood vessels during the procedure.”
A second is a lesser-performed piercing called the dorsolateral. This piercing lies horizontally through the entire width of the tongue, and is very dangerous to perform due to the structure of the tongue’s musculature. Pro piercers don’t perform it due to the level of risk, but it’s possible to see a daring self or amateur piercer with a dorsolateral.
Jewelry for a Dorsoventral Piercing
Most dorsoventral piercings use barbell-style jewelry. It’s easy to insert and relatively unobtrusive. If the piercing is placed at the very front of the tongue, the owner may decide to use a captive bead ring instead. Jewelry should be made of stainless steel, white or yellow gold, titanium or surgical-grade plastic; silver must be avoided at all costs due to its softness and tendency to tarnish. Whatever jewelry is used, the ball bearings must be checked regularly for tightness. Balls sometimes loosen and are swallowed, which could lead to choking.
Dorsolateral Piercing Jewelry
The only jewelry that will work in a dorsolateral is an industrial bar. For flexibility’s sake, it may be best to use surgical plastic jewelry instead of metal. However, metal jewelry has longer staying power. Industrial bars are produced in the same array of metals as the aforementioned barbells; once again, silver isn’t an option. If surgical plastic is used, the bar should be slightly wider than the width of the tongue to accommodate swelling.
Special Additions for Oral Jewelry
Online jewelry stores sell specialized jewelry for sensual pleasures. Body Candy carries several different vibrating tongue rings complete with spiked plastic tips and battery-powered vibrator modules. Some shops also sell textured rubber sleeves to cover the ball bearings. Barbells are among the most popular body piercing jewelry, so there’s a range of colors and sizes available.
Dangers of Tongue Rings
A tongue ring may be beautiful, but they carry some risk. People may find that the metal tongue rings click and clatter against teeth, causing distraction. It may be necessary to relearn speech after a tongue piercing as the mouth acclimates to the added weight. Dentists often frown on tongue rings due to the increased chance of tooth fracture, taste loss and drooling from the piercing. Many of these risks are reduced with lighter weight jewelry, but they’re not abolished completely. As stated above, there is also a chance that the jewelry might loosen and cause choking. When getting a tongue piercing, it’s a good idea to assess the possible dangers of what’s going into your mouth. It might be edgy, but could be risky, too.
References and ResourcesADA: ADA Statement on Intraoral/Perioral Piercing and Tongue Splitting
Consumer Dentistry Guide: Oral Piercing
Body Candy: Vibrating Tongue Rings