Frequently Asked Questions


The Association of Professional Piercers would like to present a number of facts in order that consumers, health care workers, and other concerned parties may properly educate themselves about oral piercing before making any decisions or judgments. A well-informed and discerning consumer is subject to far fewer dangers than one with incomplete or inaccurate information.

When properly performed, the piercing procedure itself takes only a few seconds, and involves minimal discomfort and often no blood. Healing is ordinarily rapid and is commonly uneventful.

Most of the concerns about oral piercings centre on one of three areas:

  • Fear of an unsafe procedure
  • Potential for damage to teeth and oral structures
  • Risk of infection

These potential hazards are generally easily controlled when the following steps are taken.


To reduce risks of an unsafe procedure, you must first select the right piercer, one who:

  • Has appropriate training; is skilled, experienced, clean and professional;
  • Practices safe piercing technique and cross-contamination control;
  • Works in a hygienic environment that conforms to relevant local and/or state regulations;
  • Follows OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standards;
  • Has obtained all applicable licenses and permits;
  • Spore tests autoclave (sterilizer) regularly and can provide documentation;
  • Uses appropriate sterile instruments and jewellery, and sterile disposable needles;
  • Takes the time to verbally instruct in proper care guidelines and provides written instructions;
  • Is available for follow-up and questions post-piercing, so any developing problems can be resolved before damage occurs.

See CHOOSING A PIERCER or download the PDF of the brochure for additional details and information.


The potential for structural damage from tongue and oral piercing can be dramatically reduced by wearing appropriate jewellery. Complications may result if the jewellery is inappropriately sized, improperly placed, or poorly manufactured. Things to consider:

Correct style of jewellery for the particular anatomy and piercing placement; Jewellery accurately sized to the area -The initial, longer jewellery that allows for usual swelling should be replaced with a shorter piece after swelling has dissipated, as this has less chance of negatively impacting the teeth and other oral structures. Surgical implant grade jewellery -See the accepted APP Minimum Jewellery Standards for detailed jewellery material and design specifications. Balls made of acrylic can be worn on tongue barbells to further minimize the risk of damage to the teeth. Check that threaded ends are on securely. Tighten them each day to insure jewellery stays in place. A smaller ball can be worn on the underside of the tongue to reduce contact with the sublingual portion of the oral cavity. Piercees should be aware that playing with the jewellery excessively, is frequently the cause of reported tooth and gum damage and should be avoided.


Proper placement is absolutely critical to the health and comfort of the piercee.

Traditional placement for a tongue piercing:

Along the midline of the tongue, essentially in the centre of the mouth;

Often approximately 3/4" or so back from the tip of the tongue;

Commonly placed with the top a little further back than the bottom (This allows the top of the jewellery to lean slightly back, away from the teeth, and towards the higher part of the upper palate where there is more room in the mouth);

Usually placed just in front of the attachment of the lingual frenulum (web under the tongue).

Traditional placement for lip or cheek piercings:

Should be placed relatively perpendicular to the area to avoid having the jewellery rest at a sharp angle.

Position should be chosen so that the jewellery rests in a neutral spot within the mouth.

Post should be shortened to fit snugly once healing is done to minimize contact of jewellery with the gums or teeth.

Place cheek piercing no further away from the mouth than the first molars to avoid parotid gland and ducts.

A h3 light can be used to check the selected placement for vascularity and enervation (blood vessels and nerves).

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