When Can I Change My Tongue Piercing Ring?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 7, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

A tongue ring has increased risks of complications as opposed to other piercing locations. One of the best ways to avoid such a situation is waiting long enough for your piercing to heal before changing it, but not too long that the object causes damage to your mouth.

A tongue ring has increased risks of complications as opposed to other piercing locations. One of the best ways to avoid such a situation is waiting long enough for your piercing to heal before changing it, but not too long that the object causes damage to your mouth.

It should also be noted that tongue piercings can close up extremely quickly, especially when they’re still healing.

You can change your tongue ring:

  • When it’s fully healed 
  • If it’s causing any irritation in your mouth

Characteristics of a Tongue Piercing

The different locations of a tongue piercing change the timeframe for when it’s completely healed, and, therefore, when you can change it:

  • Midline: Classic barbell centered in the tongue, penetrating all the way through
  • Side: Like a midline piercing but off to one side, either left or right
  • Snake eye: At the tip of your tongue, a curved piercing across the width 
  • Frenulum linguae: Through the webbing on the underside of your tongue 
  • Horizontal: A curved piercing across the middle of your tongue that goes partially through the tongue 
  • Vertical: A curved piercing centered in the middle of your tongue that goes partway through the tongue

To be on the safe side of avoiding irritation and infection, you can’t change your tongue piercing until the wound is healed. Piercings heal from the outside in, so you can’t rely on a visual inspection of the piercing to determine if it’s ready to be changed. 

You can use this schedule as a rough estimate of when you can expect to change your tongue ring:

  • Horizontal and vertical: 1–2 weeks 
  • Midline and side: 4–8 weeks
  • Snake eyes: 6–9 weeks
  • Frenulum: 8–10 weeks

Type of Jewelry With a Tongue Ring

To avoid excessive wear and tear, this jewelry doesn’t always have balls at the end of it. Sometimes, there are flat discs that instead hold the shaft in place. This is intended to create less friction between the jewelry and the inside of the mouth. On the flip side, some tongue jewelry has elaborately carved objects that screw into place where the balls would go.

Why Do You Need to Change Your Tongue Piercing?

Your first tongue ring will be larger than the regular size. Your piercer will give you this to help prevent any complications from swelling of the tongue

Due to this procedure, creating a puncture site through connective tissue and muscle, your body will be in shock and needs to adjust to the intrusion of a foreign object. Part of this adjustment is initial inflammation. 

A bigger barbell allows the tongue to swell without reaching the balls at the end of the jewelry. If your piercer fails to do this, your tongue may get pinched between the balls or it may swell over the ends of the piercing. This isn’t good as it may require an incision to remove the piercing from inside the tongue, which could lead to increased infection. 

Once you’ve healed, you’ll need to switch to a smaller piece of hardware. You need to do this because it reduces the risk of the metal damaging the enamel of your teeth. 

Damage to Your Teeth and Gums

Choosing the right jewelry for a tongue piercing can have a pretty massive impact on mitigating potential complications. The most significant complications of tongue piercings are:

  • Adverse effects on tooth enamel
  • Gum erosion, and 
  • Teeth fractures

Picking an appropriate size for your piercings helps alleviate these issues because they result from the interaction between the jewelry and the inside of your mouth. 

When you switch your piercing out, you may consider making a change that would be kinder to your oral cavity. You can choose jewelry made out of many different mediums other than metal if:

  • Plastic
  • PMMA — polymethylmethacrylate
  • PTFE — polytetrafluorethylene
  • Stone
  • Horn
  • Wood 
  • Bone

Negative Effects on Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel wears down with the constant movement of the end of a piercing against it. This can be so severe that it can lead to the death of teeth. 

Gum Erosion

A similar effect happens to your gums. The hard surface of the piercing erodes the soft tissue of your gums, leaving you with exposed roots and increased sensitivity. This can get so severe that you may lose teeth as a result. 

Tooth Fractures

Tooth fractures occur from a habit of holding the end of a ring between the teeth and biting down on it accidentally. 

Shortening the length of the piercing is a choice that will lessen its tendency to wear on your oral cavity. This will help you avoid long-term, severe health complications as a result of your tongue piercing. 

Timing the Changing of Your Tongue Ring

The healing time of a tongue piercing varies depending on its location. Of course, other factors, like aftercare, will also affect this timing. Relying on general healing ranges is a helpful reference for knowing when to change your tongue ring. 

Changing your piercing too soon may result in irritation that can lead to more consequential problems, like an infection. Once the healing is complete, though, it’s vital to change to a smaller, healthier piece of jewelry so you can minimize any negative effects on your gums or teeth.

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.