My friends and I are going to get our tongues pierced next week. Any tips for staying safe?

Great question. Because you use your tongue so much, and because our mouths are full of bacteria, it’s particularly important to be careful of infections when you get your tongue pierced.

The first thing to do is to make sure you go to a licensed and established piercing institution. There should be separate, clean rooms for piercing, and the piercers should use fresh gloves and fresh, disposable needles. Avoid shops that use piercing guns — they’re harder to clean, and more likely to damage your tongue. If you have any questions or concerns about safety, the people who work at the shop should be able to answer in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

After you get the piercing, make sure to follow the aftercare instructions. This usually includes regularly rinsing with antimicrobial mouthwash or saline solution. Additionally, as your piercing heals, you’ll want to stay away from smoking, alcohol-based mouthwash, and French kissing and oral sex.

Sound like a lot? Ear and eyebrow piercings tend to be a lot safer, and you don’t have give up making out.