What Are the Best Tips for Tongue Piercing Aftercare?

Sandi Johnson

Getting your tongue pierced is a personal decision, but requires proper understanding of tongue piercing aftercare to prevent infections and other difficulties. The best tips regarding tongue piercing aftercare vary, depending on who you ask. Professional piercers recommend rinsing with antiseptic mouth wash for at least seven days. Dental and medical professionals recommend as long as six weeks for antiseptic rinsing. To ensure the best results of any body modification piercing, carefully follow the piercing professional's instructions, which will often include steps for reducing swelling, keeping the piercing clean, making necessary adjustments to jewelry, and instructions for follow up visits.

Drinking cold water can help reduce swelling from a tongue piercing.
Drinking cold water can help reduce swelling from a tongue piercing.

Tongue piercing aftercare instructions typically focus primarily on cleanliness and swelling management. Immediately following a tongue piercing, the area will swell, often enough to disrupt normal speech and eating habits. Ice chips, cold water, and similar remedies will help reduce swelling within the first day or so after getting a piercing. Control of swelling is important to prevent disruption or loosening of barbell ball ends, which can lead to a lost piercing, excessive irritation, and possible infection.

Mouth wash should be used after a tongue piercing.
Mouth wash should be used after a tongue piercing.

Eating and drinking habits are recommended as tolerated in most tongue piercing aftercare literature. In an effort to prevent infection, after eating or drinking anything other than plain water, rinsing with an antiseptic mouth wash is imperative. Most piercing professionals, as well as dental and medical professionals, recommend rinsing several, if not dozens of times per day to kill off harmful bacteria. How long an individual should rinse is the only matter of contention among piercing and medical professionals.

Minimum recommendations are to rinse with antiseptic mouth wash as often as possible for seven days, with some recommendations continuing for as long as six weeks after the initial tongue piercing. Subjects of a tongue piercing should take care to use only those antiseptic mouth wash products recommended by their piercer or medical professional. Using topical antibacterial ointments, for example, is strongly discouraged as these products, while serving to kill harmful bacteria, are not recommended for puncture wounds.

Adjustments and follow up care are an important part of tongue piercing aftercare as well. Checking the balls on either end of the barbell for a tight fit twice each day is a common recommendation. Swelling in the first few days, as well as speaking, eating, and other movements, can loosen ball ends on an oral piercing. Snug ball ends ensures the piercing cannot shift or fall out, resulting in further irritation of the piercing site.

Once swelling has subsided, usually within the first two weeks, most piercing professionals recommend a follow up visit to change out barbells. Initial barbells used in tongue piercing are longer to accommodate for swelling tissue, but continued wearing after the risk of swelling has subsided can lead to cracked or chipped teeth. As such, changing to a shorter barbell is a common and sensible tongue piercing aftercare recommendation.

Sticking to a regular tongue piercing aftercare routine can help avoid infection.
Sticking to a regular tongue piercing aftercare routine can help avoid infection.

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