Tongue Piercing Pain: How Much Do They Hurt?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on July 15, 2018
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Tongue piercings have been popular for years, and they still make quite a statement. Nevertheless, if you’re thinking about getting one, you’re likely curious about how much it’s going to hurt, even if you’ve had several other piercings done before.

That’s okay. Tongue piercings can be a bit more intimidating than other areas.

In fact, you may be asking yourself quite a few questions, like ‘how big is the needle?’ or ‘how long will it take?’ No worries. This guide has all the information you need to prepare yourself for the potential pain of a tongue piercing.


Will A Tongue Piercing Definitely Hurt?

Yes, a tongue piercing hurts, however, how much you perceive the pain or how much the pain bothers you, will be unique to you. Some people rate the pain of a tongue piercing as quite low, others say the healing process is more painful than the actual piercing.

That being said, when considering getting your tongue pierced, you should go in expecting to experience at least some pain.

How Bad Will The Pain Be?

Here’s the good news about tongue piercing pain- it’s over super quick, and they use an extremely sharp needle to do the piercing. One of the reasons many people are nervous about a tongue piercing is that they think it will feel similar to accidentally biting your tongue, but it doesn’t feel like that at all.

In fact, it hurts much worse to bite down hard on your tongue than to get a tongue piercing for several reasons. For one thing, much more pressure is applied by a hard bite with your teeth than with a piercing needle, and for another, the pain of the bite covers a much wider area on your tongue.

Tongue Piercing

Here are a few experiences that people have compared tongue piercing pain to:

If you get a vaccination, like the flu shot, that’s a very similar feeling to getting your tongue pierced. Why? Because both the flu shot and a tongue piercing go through muscle. Your piercing is probably going to hurt a bit more than getting blood drawn, because the needle for a blood sample does not have to go through the muscle.

On the contrary, if you’ve ever gotten anesthetic injections into your gums for dental work, you may find that getting your tongue pierced is actually less painful than that. The tongue has more give than your gums, which are quite tough.

Some have described the sensation of getting the tongue pierced like a large pinch, followed by a burning feeling.

Some have said that other piercings they’ve received have hurt more than a tongue piercing, while others say the tongue piercing was more painful. It really differs between individuals.

But what is probable is that a tongue piercing is unlikely to be the most painful thing you ever experience in your life. Not even close.

Also, remember that the initial pain is over in just a few seconds. If you breathe in for a count of 5 and breathe out for a count of 5, the piercing pain will be over before you’re done exhaling.

Your eyes may water a bit, but once the needle is through, the piercing pain is over. Most people with tongue piercings report that it doesn’t hurt at all when the jewelry goes in.

What To Expect At The Piercing Shop

The first thing that happens for a tongue piercing is you’ll have to fill out the usual forms and have your ID checked. The piercer will also ask about any health issues they should be aware of.

Make sure you’re honest about any illness or allergies. It’s important for your piercing professional to know ahead of time. Never put the desire for a nice-looking piercing above your health.

After that’s all squared away, the piercer will check your tongue. They will make sure it’s long enough to pierce. Yes, some tongues are too short for a tongue piercing. If you can stick your tongue out of your mouth, yours is probably long enough.

They will also check the webbing under your tongue. If the webbing goes too far out, then you may not be able to get a tongue piercing because damaging the webbing can cause serious complications, including additional swelling that could make it difficult for you to breathe.

Double Tongue Piercing

Finally, they will take a look at the veins on the underside of your tongue, and they may use a light to get a thorough look. Believe me, you do not want a piercing to go through a vein or artery.

Most people’s veins do not run directly through the center of the tongue, but if yours does, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get a tongue piercing.

For the actual piercing, a clamp will be put on your tongue so the piercer can hold it in place. This may be somewhat uncomfortable or feel unnatural because you can’t move your tongue much, but it shouldn’t hurt at all. Your tongue just has to be pulled out of your mouth in order for the correct spot to be reached for piercing.

The piercer will mark the spot to pierce, making sure it’s the exact same location they found during the examination of your tongue. The sterilized piercing needle will then be placed over the marked spot and your piercer will insert the needle through your tongue. Usually, it’s a 14-gauge needle, which is slightly larger than a typical earlobe piercing.

The jewelry is then placed where the needle went through, and the ball is screwed on the top. That’s it. Quick and easy.

Remember that the type of jewelry you chose will influence the final cost of the piercing. Don’t cut corners on your body and your health as it will often cost more in the long run.

How Long Will A Tongue Piercing Hurt For?

The initial tongue piercing pain lasts only a few seconds. However, your tongue will remain sore during the healing process. Most people experience noticeable swelling after piercing, but this is a normal reaction.

Your tongue will be tender and somewhat painful during the period that it’s swollen. Fortunately, this stage usually only lasts about 5 days. Some swelling may remain for the full first week, but it should go down soon after that.

Once the swelling is gone, you may continue to experience brief periods of pain if you tug at or bite down on your tongue jewelry, until it’s fully healed at about 3 to 4 weeks.

What Factors Can Affect Tongue Piercing Pain?

If you’re still on the fence about whether you want to get a tongue piercing, know that there are factors that can in part determine how much pain you experience.

  • How rested you are; showing up after a week of sleep deprivation is likely to result in a more difficult and painful piercing experience
  • Your current state of health; again, tongue piercing involves swelling, which will be worse if you’re not in your best health at the time you get it pierced
  • Whether you had alcohol or drugs beforehand; these substances alter your nerve perceptions and may actually make the pain more noticeable
  • The experience level of your piercer; if you get pierced in the wrong place, you’re likely to experience more pain or complications
  • Whether you get just one piercing or decide to go for a double tongue piercing (which would double the amount of pain during the procedure)
  • Your personal threshold for pain; some tolerate pain better than others
  • Your mindset about getting your tongue pierced; if you feel informed and confident, you’re more likely to tolerate the pain than if you go in nervous and unsure

Unfortunately, you cannot use a numbing cream for mouth piercings. But most people find tongue piercings tolerable anyway.

Ways To Deal With Tongue Piercing Pain

You can actually use a few different methods to offset the pain of a tongue piercing. Here’s what I suggest.

  • Put in your earbuds and listen to music to take your mind off the piercing
  • Have someone to talk to you as a distraction (of course, you will only be able to listen)
  • Think about how awesome your piercing will look when this is done
  • Know that everybody with a tongue piercing has gone through the same process
  • Make sure you’re well-rested and in a clear state of mind (free of substances)
  • Find out as much as you can about the tongue piercing process beforehand
  • Eat a snack about an hour before you get pierced to prevent you from feeling faint
  • Try to relax with controlled breathing through your nose and wear comfortable clothes

Most people feel more anxiety about the pain before the piercing than they actually experience when they get their tongue pierced.

Tongue Piercing

Summary

Tongue piercing pain is not a big deal. It’s over with quickly. Do whatever you need to calm your nerves and inform yourself about the process beforehand, and you should have a completely uneventful and wholly tolerable tongue piercing experience.

If you want to ensure your piercing heals as best as 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.