A Beginner's Guide to In-Mouth Piercings

Young woman with nose and tongue piercings, close-up, mid section
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You might be surprised to learn that piercings inside your mouth are actually very different from ones on the outside of your body. They come with their own set of risks, aftercare instructions, and possible healing difficulties. We've rounded up what you should know about these piercings before you decide to get one.

Tongue Piercings

Tongue piercings have become one of the most popular options for people into body modification. Still, this piercing can cause some difficulties. Placement is crucial, in order to avoid getting a speech impediment afterwards. Always go to a professional. Tongue piercings are done with a large needle (10 to 14 gauge) and before getting one you need to know you're signing up for that, and swelling and soreness for the three to four weeks it takes to heal. Unfortunately for some, you can't smoke or even use harsh mouthwash while your tongue is healing. You're even advised against kissing and oral sex during the healing process (although plenty of people don't follow that.) Most piercers recommend multiple daily sea salt rinses during healing. Problems that can develop later down the lines with tongue piercings include the risk of chipping your teeth and biting down on your jewelry.

Tongue Web or Lingual Frenulum Piercings

The tongue web, also known as lingual frenulum, is the thin strip of connective tissue that links the tongue to the floor of the mouth. So, essentially, it's a horizontal piercing under the tongue. It's important to keep in mind that not everyone even has enough tissue available in this area for a piercing. Usually, the jewelry put in is a curved barbell or a captive bead ring. The healing time is about four weeks, and as with any oral piercings, it's really important to not smoke while it's healing.

Frowny Frenulum Piercings

Frowny piercings are performed across the thin line of tissue (frenulum) that connects your bottom lip to your gums. It usually can't be seen at all unless intentionally revealed, which makes it a popular choice for people who want a piercing they can hide. However, it isn't a trouble-free piercing site, because frowny piercings are extremely prone to migration and rejection. Unfortunately, this is because most people don't have enough tissue for a successful piercing, but some piercers will do it anyway. The jewelry used is almost always a delicate captive bead ring. It also comes with risk of gum or tooth damage from the jewelry.

Smiley (Scrumper) Frenulum Piercings

Smiley (also known as scrumper) piercings are done in the upper lip frenulum, the thin connective tissue that links your upper lip to your gums. This piercing can often be seen when you smile, hence the name. As with other frenulum sites, some people don't have enough tissue here for a piercing. There's also a lot of stress on this piercing due to the movement of your lips and gums, because speech, chewing, and other motions all affect it. This results in the same problems with migration and rejection as frowny piercings. Delicate jewelry is also used here, usually in the form of a circular barbell. (Circular is a misnomer, as the barbell is actually horseshoe shaped.) A smiley piercing should heal in about four weeks if you're healthy and do proper aftercare. Again, no smoking.

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