Clamping the tongue

I’ve been asked a few times about the use of tongue clamps. They’re something I use a lot and very much enjoy using for the sense of helplessness and drooling they create, not to mention the pain that they inflict.

Are they dangerous? Well, it depends how upset you make your partner with them! I’m going to point out that in my experience there isn’t a mild setting with clamping a tongue this way. The range is pretty much from it really hurts to it really, REALLY hurts. Your mileage may vary.

clover_clampWhat I’m writing about here is the use of my favourite clamp the clover clamp, that’s a clamp with a very small surface area that places all it’s pressure in one spot. I’m not covering the bar type of clamp that goes across the tongue. To the right is an illustration of the kind of clamp I’m talking about. It’s spring loaded, has small rubberised dimpled pads in the jaws that make it bight on good and hard on a wet tongue.


A very fortunate thing about the anatomy of the tongue is that the lingual nerves pass down the outside of the two halves of the tongue (image 1 below). This means that you can clamp, pierce or even bifurcated and still have feeling. I’ve gratuitously included a piercing image here for completeness (image 2 below).

Generally aim to get the clamp in the centre of the tongue just in front of the Lingual Frenulum. It’s that pierced bit that connects the tongue to the bottom of your mouth and that you can see as the pierced bit under the tongue in (image 3 below).

So placing the clamp on the centre line of the tongue works well. The motor functions of the tongue are controlled by the Hypoglossal nerve but clamping on the centre line you are very unlikely to affect motor function.

This placement does not mean that this does not hurt, it does, it hurts a lot!

I’ve never encountered serious problems with this beyond some pretty fierce soreness reported by Clover, that however doesn’t mean that problems can’t happen.

As usual with clamping the harder you do it and the longer you do it for the more likely you are to run in to trouble. Be reasonable and keep tabs on how the person you are clamping is reacting. If they’ve gone numb definitely take the clamp off. Even aside from safety concerns if they can’t feel it it’s lost its point anyway.

Outliers and exceptions

Some people just have very short tongues, making it difficult to get a good tongue clamp on. It’s not impossible to clamp but it can make it difficult to get a good clamping that doesn’t interfere with the Lingual Frenulum.

On the subject of the Lingual Frenulum some people have one that extends nearly to the tip of the tongue. You should definitely avoid damaging the Lingual Frenulum. This could lead to all sorts of nasty swellings and complications.

Some people have a vein directly down the centre of the tongue (which prevents some people from having a central tongue piercing). This can mean that clamping on it at least reduces blood flow. As with anything that cuts circulation you should pay close attention to the affect this has on the tongue.


The tongue is exceptionally well supplied with blood. Even very minor cuts will bleed profusely. Please exercise due caution!


  • Lingual nerve: Serves the floor of the mouth and senses touch and temperature for the anterior two-thirds of the tongue

  • Chorda tympani nerve: Part of the facial nerve; contains taste fibers from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue

  • Hypoglossal nerve: Innervates the muscles of the tongue (except for the palatoglossus)

  • Glossopharyngeal nerve: Supplies general sensory and taste for the posterior one-third of the tongue

  • Internal laryngeal nerve: Branches supply general sensation to a small part of the posterior part of the tongue

Blood supply

  • Branches of the lingual artery: Supply blood to the tongue

  • Dorsal lingual arteries: Supply the posterior part of the tongue

  • Deep lingual artery: Supplies the anterior part of the tongue and communicates with the dorsal arteries at the apex

  • Sublingual artery: Supplies the sublingual gland and the floor of the oral cavity

As usual I’d like to say that I am not a medical professional and I heartily recommend that you do your own research and not rely solely on any single source of information. Don’t just rely on what I’ve written here. If you’re doing this with a partner it is your responsibility to check it out.

What I’ve put here is correct to the best of my knowledge but it’s unlikely that my knowledge is anywhere near complete. On that subject, if anyone who is a medical professional has any additional information I should look into I’d be glad to hear from you. I’m more than happy to correct any factual errors.

Finally here are some images using clamps. They’re not educational but they are instructive if you know what I mean.