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What Does it Mean When a Tongue Piercing is Nesting?

piercing and pill on tongue of eccentric androgynous man with opened mouth

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When someone talks about a piercing (typically a tongue piercing) nesting, they’re referring to it settling into the tissue under it. You may notice your tongue piercing is settling because you see less of the jewelry end than you did when you were first pierced. You may also notice a “crater” like hole in your tongue under where the piercing sits. Nesting in this sense is just another word for settling.

Is Nesting Normal For a Tongue Piercing?

Nesting is a completely normal part of the healing process for tongue piercings. Think of laying your head down on a fluffy pillow – the pillow will make a divot for your head. Your tongue will naturally make way for your new jewelry. As long as no more than 30% of your jewelry is hidden inside your tissue, nesting is completely normal and safe.

How Do You Stop Piercings From Nesting?

Nesting can be caused by wearing jewelry that is too short. Usually this is during the healing process. To protect your teeth, your piercer may ere on the shorter side for your initial jewelry. Tongues can swell a lot during the initial healing process and your initial jewelry will need to be long enough to accommodate that swelling. Unfortunately, long jewelry on tongues is a danger to your teeth because it increases the chances of hitting the jewelry against your teeth or chomping down on it. Your piercer will make their best educated guess on how long your initial jewelry should be to prevent nesting and tooth damage.

Piercing Embedding VS Nesting

Nesting can appear similar to piercing embedding. While nesting is completely safe, embedding is very dangerous and you should treat it as an emergency. If your tongue piercing is nested in more than 30% of the end, it may be on its way to embedding. Embedding occurs when the skin actually grows up and around your jewelry. Just like nesting, it’s caused by jewelry being too short. Nesting stops while embedding will continue until it swallows up your jewelry. If you allow your piercing is become embedded you may even need to visit a doctor to have your jewelry removed.

How To Get Rid of a Tongue Piercing Crater

Unfortunately there’s no sure way to get rid of a crater caused by a tongue piercing. A crater is caused by deformation of the tissue. This is the same way a scar is formed. As with all scars, they may be permanent or they may get better with time. As long as your tongue piercing jewelry is long enough, there is a chance your crater may eventually correct itself. However you should be prepared knowing that your crater may be permanent.


Nesting is a completely natural and safe part of healing a tongue piercing. It’s most commonly caused by swelling while the jewelry is too short. Your piercer will estimate the best size for your initial jewelry while erring on the side of protecting your teeth. Unfortunately, craters caused by nesting can be permanent, but there is a chance the crater will eventually repair itself if your jewelry is long enough. If more than 30% of your jewelry is inside your tongue, visit your piercer ASAP to avoid embedding.