Horizontal Tongue Piercings: Guide & Images

  • Written By Dan Hunter on May 28, 2019
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

The Horizontal tongue piercing is also known as the snake eyes piercing because the balls at the end of the jewelry look like snake eyes on the end of the tongue. This piercing is less common than a basic tongue piercing, so if you’re going for a different look, this could be the way to distinguish yourself.

That being said, before you jump into getting a new piercing, you should take a look at this guide. I’ve gathered up all the information you need to know about horizontal tongue piercings.

What Is A Horizontal Tongue Piercing?

Typical tongue piercings go through the tongue vertically. They can be placed in the center of the tongue or to the side, and you can even get multiple tongue piercings in different spots.

A horizontal tongue piercing, however, looks like you have multiple tongue piercings even though you actually only get pierced once.

This piercing goes through the tongue sideways, typically somewhat close to the tip, though a variety of placements along the tongue are possible. A curved barbell is used so that the balls on the jewelry face the top of the tongue, and it enters the tongue on one side and exits on the other.

Your piercer will need to make sure that your tongue is thick enough to accommodate a horizontal piercing.

It’s easy to confuse the snake eyes piercing with the venom piercings because the names are kind of related. But venom tongue piercings are two separate vertical piercings on each side of the tongue.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing

What Happens During A Horizontal Tongue Piercing?

A horizontal tongue piercing is performed in much the same way as a basic tongue piercing. You will be given an antiseptic mouthwash to rinse with before getting your piercing.

This is pretty standard for all oral piercings, including tongue and lip piercings, and it reduces the level of bacteria in your mouth to prevent a potential infection from developing.

After examining your tongue to make sure you can physically have this piercing, the body piercing professional will mark the entrance and exit points on your tongue, one on each side.

Then, a clamp will be put on your tongue to hold it in place. This makes the piercing easier and safer.

A hollow, sterilized piercing needle will be inserted horizontally through the spots already printed on your tongue. Finally, your jewelry (a curved barbell) is put in where the needle penetrated.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing Pain – How Much Does It Hurt?

Tongue piercings actually tend to be on the lower end of the pain scale for most individuals.

In fact, a lot of people report that getting their tongue pierced hurt less than they expected it to. On the contrary, horizontal tongue piercings are among the more painful of tongue piercings.

Getting a horizontal tongue piercing hurts more than a vertical tongue piercing because the piercing needle and initial jewelry placement have to go through more tissue to get from one side of the tongue to the other than to go up and down through the tongue.

That means more of your nerves are being affected by the piercing pain.

You will also experience pain during the healing process of your piercing. Tongue piercings heal relatively quickly, but they do swell and cause difficulty eating and talking for a week or so.

How Much Does A Horizontal Tongue Piercing Cost?

Although the horizontal tongue piercing seems more complicated, the actual procedure is about the same for any tongue piercing. The area gets marked and the needle goes through. So it usually costs about the same as a vertical tongue piercing.

Of course, a double tongue piercing will likely cost more.​

That means in terms of tongue piercing prices, you can expect to pay between $50 and $90, with the cost of jewelry included.

What To Do Before Getting A Horizontal Tongue Piercing

Tongue Piercing

Before you go in for your snake eyes piercing, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

Brush and floss your teeth

You want to start with the cleanest mouth possible when you get an oral piercing, and brushing and flossing may become difficult during the healing period. Your tongue will be tender and swollen. Starting as clean as possible will help you to prevent infections.

Know exactly what you want

Piercing placement is somewhat subject to your unique anatomy, so you can’t always get a piercing placed exactly where you want. But you should look at some pictures and take a look at your tongue in the mirror so you can explain how far back on the tongue you’d like your piercing to go.

If the piercer says it won’t work, though, then be open to the possibility of alternate placements or not getting this particular piercing.

Prepare for anxiety and pain

You shouldn’t take any pain medication before going in for a piercing because it can increase the amount you bleed. However, you can take other steps to feel more relaxed, like listening to music or bringing someone along for support.

Get plenty of sleep

You’d be surprised how much of a difference adequate sleep makes in your pain tolerance. Be well rested when you go in for the piercing, and you’ll have a much better experience.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing Aftercare & Cleaning Guide

You want to be extra careful with your horizontal tongue piercing while it’s healing. You’re likely to experience quite a bit of swelling and tenderness during the first few days. Aftercare is simple, and you’ll be healed quickly as long as you follow these steps.

Rinse your mouth after meals

You can’t use mouthwash with alcohol after getting a tongue piercing because the alcohol is irritating. Therefore, make sure you purchase an alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash, like the kind provided for dental procedures. Use this after eating to clean out your mouth since brushing and flossing will be difficult.

Continue to brush

Although you won’t be able to brush as well as you normally do, you should still brush the teeth you are able to reach comfortably. Just be careful not to irritate the piercing or brush the tongue.

You can resume fully brushing the teeth and tongue after the swelling is gone.

Tongue Piercing

Use a saline rinse twice a day

Saline is a salt water solution. You can usually purchase a container of saline mouth rinse at your piercing studio. Or you can make a mixture of about one cup of warm distilled water and ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Rinsing with this solution twice a day will help the piercing to heal quicker and reduce the chance of a tongue piercing infection.

Stick to easy to eat foods

You’ll have a bit of trouble eating for a few days, so select foods that don’t require a lot of chewing, and don’t eat or drink anything potentially irritating, like hot drinks, alcohol, or spicy foods. You can enjoy them again when your piercing is healed.

Avoid potential sources of irritation or infection

I hate to tell anyone “no”, but there are some things you just shouldn’t do while your tongue piercing is healing. Don’t play with the jewelry. Don’t give oral sex or make out. Don’t smoke.

Wash your hands

Whenever you are tightening or cleaning the jewelry in your mouth, wash your hands first. Anything that introduces more bacteria into the mouth increases the chance of infection.

How Long Does a Horizontal Tongue Piercing Take To Heal?

You may have to put up with a bit more pain initially for a horizontal tongue piercing, but the healing time is about the same as a basic tongue piercing.

That means you can expect to be fully healed in about 2 months, and the swelling shouldn’t last more than 10 days, often less. Following proper aftercare dramatically speeds up your healing time.

What slows down healing? Playing with your piercing and not taking care of your health in general. So make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthily, and clean your piercing as often as possible.

If you want to ensure your piercing heals the best it possibly can, it’s imperative that you follow your piercer’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality aftercare solution to aid recovery.

The best piercing aftercare product I’ve ever had the pleasure of using up to this point is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application.

When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​ Click here to buy from Amazon.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing Infections

A tongue piercing infection is no fun and can leave you with permanent scarring. Here’s how to recognize one:

  • Bleeding after the first couple of days
  • Redness and swelling that lasts more than 10 days
  • ​Yellow or green pus discharging from the piercing
  • Red streaks or major discoloration on the tongue (severe and requires emergency treatment)
  • Fever

Clear discharge and some pain, swelling, or bleeding are all a normal part of the healing process.

If you suspect you are developing an infection, check your aftercare routine to make sure you’re cleaning your mouth enough (and not over-cleaning, which can irritate the piercing). A white tongue surface is a sign of over-cleaning.

For minor infections, see your piercer for advice. For more severe infections, you will need antibiotics from a doctor. Contrary to belief, removing the jewelry could lead to bacteria from the infection being trapped in the tissue and spreading, so make sure you leave it in.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing Risks

As noted, infection is a serious risk of the horizontal tongue piercing, but one that can typically be prevented with good hygiene. Here are other risks to look out for.

Tooth and gum damage

Because of the placement of this piercing, the balls on the jewelry can chip the teeth or irritate the gums. Be sure to check your teeth and go to the dentist regularly to make sure you’re not causing damage. Don’t run the jewelry along your teeth or bite down on it.


Sometimes the tongue rejects a piercing, and that causes healing tissue to push the jewelry to another location. When this happens, your piercing may look asymmetrical or begin to cause tooth damage.


Everyone’s body is different, and some don’t tolerate tongue piercings, no matter how much you want one. If the piercing becomes irritated or your body rejects it, you may be left with permanent scarring on your tongue.

Speech impediment

Many people who get a horizontal tongue piercing find that they have difficulty speaking clearly, even after it is fully healed. This piercing does restrict the movement of the tongue because of how much of the muscle it goes through.

Swallowing the jewelry

All oral piercings pose the risk of the jewelry ball coming off in your mouth. To prevent this, wash your hands and tighten the jewelry once each day. Bedtime is a good time for this so that you don’t have a ball come off while you sleep.


Yes, while your piercing is healing, you will probably drool more. This is usually temporary though.

Horizontal Tongue Piercing Jewelry

You can use a straight or curved barbell in this piercing, depending on how you have it placed. Whichever one you start with is the one you will have to stick with. No other jewelry aside from barbells can be used in a horizontal tongue piercing because you need a bar to go through the entire length of the piercing.

While healing, you will need to wear titanium, gold, or surgical steel only. Metal barbells with acrylic balls can be a good option to help prevent tooth damage.

Be aware that cheap jewelry can cause allergic reactions that will lead to infection, and full acrylic is more likely to harbor bacteria. It can be safe as long as you clean the jewelry often.

Tongue Piercing


Everyone wants a unique piercing, so variations and different jewelry are being made all the time. A horizontal tongue piercing is definitely one you don’t see often, so if you’re up for something a little more dramatic, it could work for you.

It’s going to hurt a bit more than other piercings, and you’ll probably find that the initial pain lasts longer than quicker piercings because the needle and jewelry pass through a wider space.

But healing should be comparable to a standard tongue piercing, with a fully healed horizontal tongue piercing in just 2 months.

Follow the right aftercare, which means avoiding irritants and rinsing your mouth with both mouthwash and saline every day, and you’ve got a good chance of avoiding complications and enjoying a unique new piercing.

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