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On a tongue piercing and its healing

The day after I finished my third year exams, I got my tongue pierced. I had planned on getting it done before the exams, as I thought that the two weeks of not silence and study would be a perfect environment to heal it in. My piercer advised me otherwise, though – he said that the stress of my exams would delay the healing, and it could distract me from my study if anything went wrong. So on May the 16th, I went in to V Piercing, beneath Inkwell Tattoo, in Dublin. Mark, the piercer, was tattooing someone when I got there, so I waited in the reception, chatting to the other customers (including one old lady who was in to make an appointment to finish her backpiece. Unfortunately I didn't get to see it, but the receptionist says it's really impressive). Then, when Mark had finished the tattoo, we went down to the piercing room.

I swirled some Listerine until it began to feel like acid in my mouth, then I spat it out and sat down on the bed. I stuck out my tongue for Mark to mark up – it was a little further forward than I'd hoped for, but when he put the clamps on, he discovered that he could move it back a little, as my tongue web wasn't as prominent as he'd thought. He lubed up his cannula needle and I took a deep breath in. As I breathed out, he pierced carefully up through my tongue. It didn't hurt, but I could definitely feel it. It pinched going into the underside of my tongue, and it felt hot going up through it. Coming out the top, I just felt a lot of pressure and a pop as it pierced through the tough top layer. The jewellery insertion was slightly uncomfortable, due to the movement through the fresh hole, but Mark congratulated me on my lack of drooling – only one little drip during the entire procedure.

The bottom ball is tilted slightly to the left, to avoid the tongue web, and the bar itself is angled slightly backwards. Mark said it makes it a little more comfortable to heal, as the bar isn't pushing straight up against the roof of the mouth. It may take a couple of days extra to heal, as the piercing is a few millimetres longer, but it increases the comfort and lessens the damage to the teeth.

After I left the studio to walk home, my tongue went numb, which was very entertaining – one of my favourite sensations is the feeling you get after the dentist has numbed your mouth, and the feeling's just starting to come back, but you still don't have complete control over your tongue. That's what this felt like for about half an hour after the piercing.

When I got home, my tongue was feeling unexpectedly normal, but I put a bowl of water in the freezer anyway, so that I would have ice when the swelling started. I nibbled on some cornflakes, to see if I could chew. I'd never noticed before how much I use my tongue when I eat until now – you need it to swirl the food around your mouth, to retrieve it when it escapes to the space between your lip and your gum, to poke it out when it gets trapped in your molars – and all of this is quite tricky when the tongue is swollen and tender. Even wetting your lips requires some adjustments, as the large barbell is tricky to manoeuvre out between the teeth.

The second day, I tried to be good with my food, and avoid all the recommended items. I had porridge for breakfast, smoothies to drink, and noodle soup for lunch. Unfortunately, my parents then showed up unexpectedly (informing me that I was a 'dirty hussy' to have got my tongue pierced) and we went out for pizza that evening. I think my mum was trying to punish me. I tried to eat the pizza, but it was very tricky to chew and I only managed about a quarter of it. And it had cheese on it, so I'd broken the 'No Dairy' rule. That evening, my tongue was impressively swollen. It wasn't particularly sore though, just very tired.

The next day, I was a bit better – cous cous and vegetable soup were much easier to eat, and the swelling had gone down a lot. I did break the 'No Sugar' rule that day, but I washed my teeth right afterwards.

The fourth day, I succumbed to temptation and bought myself an éclair, breaking both the sugar and dairy rules, and I bit my nails without noticing a few times. I brushed my teeth after each big meal, and I washed my mouth out with lots of water after eating anything else. Mark had advised me not to use too much mouthwash, as it could kill of all the beneficial bacteria in my mouth, resulting in bad breath and possibly oral thrush.

After that, I was naughty, and I returned to my normal diet; dairy, alcohol, sweets and all. I did keep a bottle of water handy, to rinse with after eating, and I brushed my teeth after every big meal. I should have been much more careful about it all, but I'm not someone to whom dieting comes easily, and living on soup and water is not my idea of a good time.

I found that my ability to chew came back very quickly – it was a bit of a chore for the first three days, but after that, I was able to flex my tongue just as I had before the piercing. The swelling went down quite gradually over the first week, from practically spherical the first few days, to just a bump around the piercing at the end of the week. A little mucous-y discharge collected around the bar bell, but it was easily removed by brushing or even just swirling mouthwash around the mouth. One of the great things about a tongue piercing is that, since the mouth is always moist, the discharge (lymph) doesn't form the crusties that build up on other piercings and which can be carried into the healing piercing, causing discomfort and irritation.

In the middle of the second week, my tongue felt as though it was healed all the way through. There was still some discharge from the piercing, and the tongue developed an odd white coating if I left it too long between brushings, but it was possible to brush the piercing itself without any pain or discomfort. The swelling was totally gone, and the bar was a bit too long, but I never bit it by accident – I think it's too far back to get in the way of anything.

I wasn't able to get the bar shortened after two weeks, as Mark had recommended, as I'd had to go to a family function. So the third weekend, I went back in to V piercings. Mark was very surprised that I hadn't bitten the bar, as it was ridiculously long in my mouth. The original bar was a 1.6 mm titanium bar, 18 mm long, and the new one is only 14 mm long. It's much more comfortable now, but I can't play with the short bar as easily as I could with the long one.

That's the tale of my tongue piercing and healing. I hope it has been of some use to someone. Thanks for reading!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 16 June 2008
in Tongue Piercing

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Artist: Mark
Studio: V+Piercings
Location: Dublin%2C+Ireland

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