8 Apr 2011

I received a message from a piercee who is concerned about the size of the tongue jewelry in his new piercing:

So recently i got my tongue pierced, and ive been taking care of it rather well if i dont say so myself but something is bugging me, and i have asked my piercer and he says its fine but it still bugs me. You know how when you get your tongue pierced the ball of the barbell creates that crater? well the ball of my piercing is all the way sunken into it and i can't see it when my tongue is laying relaxed in my mouth. But i can push the piercing up and the ball will pop out of the crater just fine but will always sink in after. Now the guy who pierced my tongue said that this is fine and that my tongue is just swollen and this will go away, but for some reason the people I talked to about this ( who have their tongues pierced as well) hasnt encountered their ball sinking into their crater this badly. So im just a over worring person.Im wondering if something happened or im just that small percent of people where this happens all time and im just not aware of it.

If you can help me thank you so much !


My reply:

HI Sam,

It is hard to evaluate your situation without seeing you, but I'll help as best I can. You're welcome to send a clear, close-up photo or two. You said "recently" but I'd like you to be more specific: how old is your tongue piercing? Tongue piercings normally do swell, but standard practice is to put in a bar that is long enough to accommodate the swelling, without being overly long, which represents extra danger to your teeth.

A certain amount of "nesting" with the jewelry sinking into the tissue is to be expected. But too much is not a good thing, and because oral tissues regenerate so quickly, if your jewelry is too short, you can end up with an embedded barbell. If more than half the ball is sunk into your piercing when your tongue is at rest, you may need to get a longer post put in. If you don't think it seems as though you're in danger of embedding and your piercing is just a few days old, then you may want to see what you can do to get the swelling to go down ASAP.

Are you letting your tongue rest (not too much talking--NO playing with it), sucking gently on ice, drinking cold beverages, and sleeping with your head elevated to minimize swelling?

Here's some tips that are from my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing:

Piercings heal better if your body is well nourished, so eat whatever feels comfortable, and in a few days you should feel back to normal. Follow these tips for a safe, comfort-able healing course:

• Eat slowly and take small bites. Focus on keeping your tongue level. The jewelry can get between your teeth when it turns.
Avoid foods like mashed potatoes or oatmeal; they may be soft, but they are hard to eat because they to stick to your mouth and jewelry.
Smoothies, shakes, energy drinks, ice cream, soups, and the like are good menu mainstays.
Use clean fingers or utensils to place small bites of solid food between your molars. The tongue moves food to the back of the mouth, so food that is already there requires less manipulation.
Cold and frozen foods are soothing and help to minimize swelling.
Chewing gum or sucking on candy may be injurious during healing. Salty, spicy, acidic, or hot foods and beverages may be irritating.
A certain amount of speaking is unavoidable, but when your piercing is fresh, try to let your tongue rest as much as possible.
Do not play with your tongue or jewelry!


Elayne Angel, Author
The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing
Medical Liaison, Association of Professional Piercers



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