Tongue Piercing Pain: How Much Do They Hurt?

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

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 pain of a tongue piercing.

Will A Tongue Piercing Definitely Hurt?

Everyone experiences pain differently. 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 some pain.

How Bad Will The Tongue Piercing 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 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 as a large pinch, followed by a burning feeling. Some have said that other piercings they received, hurt more than a tongue piercing, and 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.

These should give you some similar experiences to compare the pain to, so you can put it in perspective. Even people who admit to having a low tolerance for pain have made it through tongue piercings just fine. It really depends on how badly you want the piercing.

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 you about any health issues they should be aware of.

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

Also, if you’ve been sick, the piercing will take longer to heal, so it’s a good idea to wait and come back when you’re healthy and well-rested.

After that’s all squared away, the piercer will check your tongue. They will make sure that 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 also 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.

Depending on the exact position of your veins, the piercer may be able to put the tongue ring in at a slight slant to avoid the vein.

If you’re getting tongue piercings on the sides of your tongue, called venom tongue piercings, then they will also have to make sure the position of the veins on the sides of the tongue, allow for that particular set of tongue piercings.

Once you’ve got the green light for the piercing, or before the piercer checks your tongue, you will be asked to thoroughly rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash.

This cleans the area and reduces the chance of developing an infection around your tongue piercing. It also helps the healing process to go faster, with fewer complications.

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 its the exact same location they found during the examination of your tongue, so they avoid piercing veins or webbing, or piercing to close to the tip of the tongue.

Piercing close to the tip can damage your teeth over time or cause speech impediments from the location of the jewelry.

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.

How Long Will A Tongue Piercing Hurt For?

As mentioned, 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 of the tongue after piercing. 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 and wearing 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


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 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.