Tongue piercing is as much a beauty as it is a health matter. It is thus important that proper tongue piercing aftercare is observed to minimize the overall risk of infections and other complications. Today we discuss various aspects of piercing care including cleaning the piercing and the jewelry itself, choice of food, and choosing appropriate mouthwash.
Tongue Piercing Aftercare
Your piercer has pierced your tongue and now you have a new, shiny, stainless steel barbell. The remaining part is up to you to ensure proper healing and prevent infection.
A good professional piercers will give you detailed tongue piercing aftercare instructions to help you effectively manage the healing and minimize infection risks. It is absolutely critical that you follow them. Just in case that you did the piercing yourself (though not recommended), here is an aftercare regimen that you may want to observe:
Wash Your Hands
Before you even touch your tongue, you should ensure that it is clean and free of germs. To do that, cleanse your hands with antibacterial soap and water.
Rinse your tongue with a saline solution every day in the morning and in the evening, and after eating or taking a drink.
Your piercer might have provided you with a special saline solution to use for this purpose, but if not you can get an over the counter saline solution from your local drugstore, supermarket, or medical supply store or prepare your own at home as outlined in a subsequent section of this article.
Antibacterial Mouth Wash
You may as well consider using an alcohol free antibacterial mouthwash to keep your tongue and mouth clean as the tongue piercing heals. These are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Oral-B, Listerine, etc.
If you use Listerine however, you should dilute it 50:50 with water as it can be rather harsh n tongue piercings.
Rinse several times daily over the course of the first 7 days, particularly after foods or drinks (with the exception of water of course). The Association of Professional Piercers recommends a maximum of 5 rinses a day as more than that could cause irritation and discoloration of your piercing and mouth.
More Tongue Piercing Aftercare Tips
You will also want to observe the following tips as part of your tongue piercing care regimen:
- Avoid playing with the jewelry as the wound heals and thereafter. This can prolong the healing process and may have long-term damaging effect on your teeth.
- Avoid talking too much during the first 3 days or until the initial tongue piercing swelling has subsided.
- Stay away from alcoholic beverages until the wound has healed
- Avoid kissing and oral sex during the healing process in order to avoid tongue piercing infection.
- Do not brush your tongue when brushing your teeth as this may result in a serious irritation.
- Avoid smoking as the wound heals. Smoking lengthens wound healing time. A question is also raised about smoking weed while a tongue piercing heals; it is best to stay away from all forms of smoked substances including weed until your piercing has healed.
- Avoid using the following substances on your piercing: Table salt, Epsom salt, Betadine, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial creams (Polysporin, Neosporin, Bacitracin etc.), and tea tree oil. While these may help some wounds, they are not ideal for use on tongue piercings.
- Avoid chewing gum as this may cause irritation to the healing area of the tongue.
- Get a new toothbrush on the day you get your tongue pierced and every week thereafter until the wound has completely healed.
Tongue Piercing Aftercare Food
Salty, chilly, acidic and hot foods and drinks are not recommended as the piercing wound heals.
Instead, take liquid foods such as broths (after they have cooled down of course), protein shakes etc. as well as soft, bland foods the likes of yoghurt, apple sauce, ice cream. If you don’t mind, you can also take baby food.
Once the wound has healed significantly, you can then move on to mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and other solid but soft foods. Consider taking small bites of food, placing them directly on the hind section of your mouth.
As you eat, try to keep your tongue level because raising your tongue can make the jewelry get between the teeth.
How to Clean a Tongue Piercing
Keeping the tongue piercing clean is an important part of oral hygiene as your pierced tongue heals. There is often the question, should I clean the piercing without taking it out? The answer is a solid yes, as a matter of fact you are not supposed to remove the piercing jewelry until the wound has healed.
Swishing a mouthwash in the mouth several times daily is arguably the easiest way to clean a tongue piercing, but you can as well maintain optimal oral hygiene as the wound heals without a mouthwash.
How to Clean a Tongue Piercing With Salt Water (With Sea Salt)
For this purpose, non-iodized sea salt, not common salt is recommended. This is because common salt is touted to be a bit harsh on tongue piercings and often irritate them and cause a yellow or white coating on the tongue:
Below is a guideline on how to keep a tongue piercing clean with a saline, sea salt solution:
- Pour ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt into an 8 oz. cup of warm water. While you might get the temptation to prepare a stronger solution – it may sound more effective – it is not advisable as it is likely to cause irritation to the piercing.
- Rinse the mouth with the saline solution for 30-60 seconds. Alternatively, get a clean cotton ball soaked with the solution and use it to clean the pierced area gently.
- Repeat 2-3 times daily for 7 days.
A word of caution: If you have a heart condition or suffer from high blood pressure, you should consider talking to your doctor before using any saline solutions.
More Tongue Piercing Cleaning Tips:
Now that you know how to clean a new tongue piercing, let us now list several tips worth observing to ensure optimum oral hygiene as the tongue repairs the damaged tissues:
- Brush and floss your teeth as you normally do if not more. Otherwise, a bacterial build up in the mouth can ultimately lead to infection in the pierced area. Don’t brush your tongue though to avoid irritating it.
- Every night before you retire to bed, check the bar to ensure that it fits tightly, but not very tight, in the piercing. Just make sure that your hands are clean and you have brushed your teeth before you do this to minimize chances bacterial transmission from your hands and teeth. The barbell ball can be turned clockwise to tighten it a bit more and vice versa.
How to Clean Tongue Rings or Jewelry
We have covered how to clean tongue piercings, that is the pierced area on the tongue, but what about unused tongue piercings?
Yes, you need to clean that new tongue piercing jewelry before putting it in to ensure that it is clean and safe for use in your tongue; you don’t want to end up with an infection in piercing hole simply because the bar you used carried with it some bacteria.
New piercings jewelry alone, it is also a good idea to remove and clean the jewelry you have inserted into an old piercing – one that has healed – momentarily.
Blow is a guideline on how to clean tongue piercing rings:
In this case, we will use the term ring to stand for all common types of tongue piercing jewelries including barbells (bars) and actual rings.
- Start by detaching the various components of your tongue ring.
- Now place the tongue ring components in a small pot or saucepan with boiling water.
- After 2-3 minutes, remove them from the water and allow them to cool. Alternatively, you can just take the pot off the heat and allow the jewelry to cool alongside it.
- Disinfect your mouth with a mouthwash or saline solution, then replace the ring and tighten it into position.
Alternatively, you can use one of the following procedure to clean your ring:
- Soak the ring in hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes before rinsing it in warm water. Rinsing is necessary as hydrogen peroxide is not recommended for use in tongue piercings, more so when new.
- Dab a cotton wool soaked in alcohol, or use alcohol wipes, all over the ring, paying close attention to the hidden sections between the threads. Next, rinse the alcohol off thoroughly with warm water and you are good to go.
- Soak the tongue ring in non-alcohol mouthwash for 1-2 minutes.
The importance of cleaning your tongue ring properly cannot be overemphasized as it could mean the difference between smooth and problematic healing that is characterized by infection and other complications as described in our previous article on tongue piercing information.
Mouthwash for Tongue Piercing
Listerine is arguably the most popular antiseptic mouthwash, but as most piercers agree, it is a bit too harsh for most tongue piercing “patients”, often leading to irritation. It can still be used nevertheless if it is the only available option, by diluting it 50:50 with water.
While any alcohol-free mouth wash will do the job, most piercers stand by the effectiveness of Tech 2000 and Biotene mouthwash brands.
Although Act mouthwash was originally intended for and marketed widely for dental care, it has also won the heart of many piercees and pierces and now ranks among the best and most widely recommended mouthwash brands for tongue piercings.
Other mouthwash brands suitable for tongue piercing are Triad, Diflam, Rembrandt, Oral B, and Colgate.
Integrating mouthwash into your tongue piercing aftercare regime is as easy as rinsing your mouth with your chosen brand several times daily. Don’t use it for more than 5 times though as this might cause discoloration in your mouth and piercing area. Just make sure that the mouthwash you use is alcohol-free as alcohol can cause irritation and often cause discoloration of acrylic piercing jewelry.