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Tongue Piercing Aftercare

If you've just had your tongue pierced, it's very important for you to perform proper tongue piercing aftercare to avoid infection. Tongue piercing infections can be quite dangerous and require antibiotics quickly. You can avoid getting an infection by following these tongue piercing aftercare instructions:

  1. Keep your mouth clean. Your mouth is filled with bacteria that could get into the open wound in your tongue (called a fistula), take root, and develop into a bacterial infection. Prevent that from happening by keeping your mouth clean. You can use a solution like H2Ocean's Oral Rinse and/or make a homemade sea salt solution to swish around your mouth. To do the latter, mix 1/4 tsp. sea salt with 1 cup of water that's been boiled for at least 5 minutes to sterilize it. Let the mixture cool before swishing it around your mouth and spitting it out. You should do a sea salt-based rinse at least 2-3x/day and always rinse after meals. If you don't have access to sea salt solution immediately following a meal, you can rinse with plain water when needed. You just want to be sure to dislodge any food particles that have gotten trapped in the fistula while eating.
  2. Eat soft foods for the first few days to a week. Your tongue will be swollen and achy for at least a few days after being pierced, so avoid hard foods that may irritate it further. Stick with things like soup, mashed potatoes, yogurt, mac and cheese, protein shakes, etc., and avoid things like sandwiches.
  3. Don't smoke! Smoking can dry out your mouth and contribute to a tongue piercing infection developing. It's best to avoid smoking altogether during the tongue piercing healing process, but if you can't give up entirely, consider trying an e-cigarette to at least replace irritating smoke with vapor.
  4. Don't change your jewelry too soon. You need to give your tongue 4-6 weeks to heal before changing your jewelry, unless you're having an allergic reaction to your starter tongue ring. In that case, get your piercer to help you swap out your tongue ring for a solid titanium straight barbell. Otherwise, give your tongue plenty of time to fully heal before changing your jewelry to avoid irritating it. When the time comes to change your tongue ring, purchase an internally-threaded tongue ring to avoid scraping the delicate fistula. You may want to get a new tongue ring that's a little shorter than your starter one, since they tend to be longer to account for swelling and may be uncomfortable to wear long-term. 5/8" is a fairly standard length for a tongue ring, but the thickness of your tongue may require you to get a longer or shorter one.
  5. If you do get a tongue piercing infection, see your family doctor or dentist right away. You don't want to mess around with an oral infection. If you see yellowish pus rather than just whitish lymph coming from your fistula and/or are running a fever, schedule an appointment with your family doctor or dentist. S/he will determine if you do have an infection and provide you with antibiotics if they're needed. Your doctor may also encourage you to take out your jewelry. You should not need to remove your jewelry as long as you continue proper aftercare while taking the antibiotic. If you do remove it, make sure to keep up with sea salt solution swishes as the fistula closes. If you want to keep your tongue piercing but are concerned about your metal barbell chipping a tooth or doing other damage to your teeth or gums, you might consider getting a PTFE tongue ring or one made of another softer material.
  6. If you still have questions about your new tongue piercing and how best to care for it, visit our forum! Our knowledgeable moderators will do their best to answer your questions based on their own experiences and what they've learned by being part of the body mod community. Our forum members will also often chip in with advice from their own experiences. Check out our forum today!