Tongue Piercing Healing Stages & Aftercare Guide

Tongue Piercing Healing Process & Care Guide

Tongue piercings are one of those piercings that really make a statement, but only if you look after them properly. The tongue piercing healing stages are extremely important, and you should take care of your new piercing as best as you can throughout this initial phase.

You want an awesome tongue piercing, right? Then you need to know the healing stages and aftercare routines offered within this guide. The only way to keep your new piercing looking its best is to keep it healthy.

On The Day Of Your Tongue Piercing

The very first day, you may not notice much swelling yet, but you should still be mindful of the piercing. Taking great care, and being as gentle as possible with your new piercing from day one will prevent any unnecessary tongue pain and swelling in the following days.

The most important thing is to keep your tongue piercing clean. You can start using sea salt rinses on the day you get your tongue pierced. These are a mild antiseptic. Be sure to use warm water when dissolving the salt.

Using a salt wash wash instead of another more expensive product also helps to keep the overall cost a tongue piercing down.

Day one is the day to learn how to make your saltwater mouth rinse. Just warm one cup of distilled water and mix it with ¼ tsp of sea salt. Kosher salt can also be used, as long as you make sure it dissolves fully.

Double Tongue Piercing

If you can’t use salt water for some reason, rinsing with plain water also helps to keep the piercing clean and is especially helpful just after eating. Sticking with water to drink is also a good idea to help keep the piercing flushed out and prevent bacteria buildup.

You should also rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash. So if you don’t have a mouthwash like this, today is the day to go get some. Why does it matter if it’s alcohol-free? Simply because alcohol will irritate the new piercing and cause more pain.

It’s okay to eat and drink on the first day of having a new tongue piercing. Just keep in mind that you need to be gentle to prevent excess swelling or infections. Stick to cool or lukewarm liquids and soft foods that are easy to chew.

What To Do During The Rest Of The Aftercare Phase

Once you’ve made it through day one, it’s more of the same. Your tongue will be swollen for about 5 to 10 days, so go easy with what you eat. As the swelling decreases, you can gradually add in foods that require more chewing.

In the meantime, don’t eat or drink anything too hot. Your tongue is already going to be a little sore, and you don’t want it to be burnt and swollen. Also, eating cold foods or drinking ice water may help to reduce the swelling.

You also want to avoid foods that are irritating to wounds, which is exactly what your new piercing is. That includes acidic foods, like oranges and lemons, alcohol, and spicy foods. After each time you eat, use an antiseptic mouthwash (or water) to rinse your mouth.

Another part of keeping your mouth clean and preventing infection or complications is brushing your teeth. This keeps food particles out of your mouth and away from your tongue piercing. Brush gently and avoid knocking the jewelry. You shouldn’t brush the tongue itself until after the first week is over.

You don’t want to accidentally swallow a piece at night, and a new tongue piercing can close up very quickly if the jewelry comes out.

When it’s time to tighten the jewelry, you should also clean it. You can do this by gently brushing it with your toothbrush. If the piercing is too tender still, use a bit of hand soap and water to clean the jewelry, and rinse thoroughly. Always wash your hands before cleaning or tightening your tongue jewelry.

What Not To Do While Your Tongue Piercing Is Healing

Nobody likes a long list of things NOT to do. But if you avoid a few activities during the healing process, your tongue piercing will heal much more easily and quickly.

Don’t play with the jewelry

Keep your hands out of your mouth. Those hands pick up bacteria everywhere you go. Touching, playing with, or excessively adjusting your tongue jewelry creates opportunities for additional bacteria to build up and pose an infection threat.

And it’s not just your hands either. Don’t chew on anything (such as fingernails, pencils, or even gum), and don’t bite down on the jewelry or run it along your teeth. That’s bad for the tongue piercing and your teeth.

Tongue Piercing

Don’t give oral sex or make out

I know, this one’s a bummer. But while you’ve got a healing wound in your mouth, you don’t want to put other people’s body fluids or skin microorganisms in there.

Most of the time, the saliva from your partner’s kiss isn’t a big deal. You might catch a cold from them. However, sharing right now poses the risk for a tongue piercing infection to form, and you absolutely don’t want that.

You can get back to the oral sex and all the other fun stuff once your piercing has completely healed.

Don’t smoke

Smoke from cigarettes or marijuana will irritate your new tongue piercing. If you’re a smoker, you’re going to need to wean yourself off prior to getting your tongue pierced, and don’t start up again until it’s fully healed at about 2 months.

When Can I Stop Cleaning My Tongue Piercing?

After 6 to 8 weeks, most tongue piercings will be fully healed. However, this doesn’t mean you can stop cleaning your tongue piercing. You should always make sure you’re keeping your mouth and jewelry as clean as possible.

A tongue piercing infection can develop at any time, even if you’ve had your piercing for years. That’s because tiny sores can develop and let in bacteria if your piercing gets pulled on or injured.

On the other hand, after the healing process is over and your tongue piercing is no longer an open wound, you can reduce the amount of cleaning down to brushing and flossing your teeth, and using mouthwash about once a day.

You will no longer need to use a salt water rinse at this point, but it’s still a good idea to rinse your mouth with water after eating. If any sign of irritation develops, or if your piercing is injured, you can use salt water to clean it out and prevent infection.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan-friendly, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.

Replacing Your Tongue Piercing Jewelry

After the initial swelling has gone down entirely, at about 7 to 10 days, you can return to your piercer and have the long curved barbell replaced with a shorter one.

You no longer need the longer piece of jewelry after the swelling is gone and your tongue has returned to its normal size.

In fact, leaving it in can make it more likely that you accidentally bite down on the jewelry or tap it against your teeth, so you should return to your piercer to have it changed out.

Double Tongue Piercing


Tongue swelling and difficulty talking are normal parts of the healing process. However, you don’t want to prolong those symptoms or make them any worse. So follow the aftercare your piercer recommends.

After 2 months of careful care, you’ll have a piercing that looks great for many years. At that point, you can resume eating and drinking whatever you like.