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 stage is extremely important, and you should take care of your new piercing as best as you can throughout this initial phase.
Tongue Piercings are mysterious. They are somewhat hidden, but immediately noticeable the moment you talk. If you're considering a tongue piercing thinking you'll be able to hide it from your boss, think again! That flash of jewelry is a real attention-getter.
Not to mention, you're going to go through some growing pains as your tongue piercing heals. We're talking a bit of swelling and you sounding funny for a while when you talk. Nothing major.
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.
How Long Does A Tongue Piercing Take To Heal?
A tongue piercing actually heals surprisingly fast. Compared to other piercings, like ear or nose cartilage piercings, tongue piercings heal easily. In fact, if you take out the jewelry before your tongue piercing is fully healed, you risk the hole closing up within a few hours.
So don't take out your tongue jewelry until it's completely healed! And even after the healing process is complete, you'll want to keep jewelry in the piercing most of the time to prevent it from closing.
So how long does it take a tongue piercing to heal? It depends on your body, your health, your oral hygiene, and how well you follow aftercare. But in general, your new piercing should be completely healed in 6 to 8 weeks. At that point, you can change the jewelry out for something different if you want.
What To Do On The Day Of Your Tongue Piercing
When you get your tongue piercing, you can expect to go through a healing process in various stages. 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.
Before you go in for your piercing, you might consider treating yourself to a favorite meal the day of your piercing appointment. A healing tongue piercing makes it somewhat difficult to eat because of the initial swelling. So your food choices will be limited for a while after you get your tongue pierced.
The absolute most important thing is to keep your 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.
However, don’t use regular table salt, which contains iodine and may have other additives. Rinse your mouth with this solution to keep the piercing clean.
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.
If a mouthwash with alcohol is all you have available, you can dilute it with a bit of water and use that to rinse your mouth. Diluting the mouthwash will reduce irritation from the alcohol.
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.
When you have time, continue rinsing with salt water solution twice every day until the piercing is fully healed. Doing this when you’re getting ready in the morning and when you’re preparing for bed at night can be an easy way to add it to your routine without forgetting.
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.
When you first get pierced, you will have a longer barbell in place to allow room for swelling. Be sure to check the balls on the ends each day and make sure they’re snug on the threads so that your jewelry doesn’t come out.
You don’t want to accidentally swallow a piece at night, and a new piercing can close up quite 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. But if the piercing is too tender still, use a bit of hand soap and water to clean the jewelry, and rinse thoroughly.
And this part is important. 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.
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. But sharing right now poses the potential for a tongue piercing infection forming, and you absolutely don’t want that.
You can get back to the fun once your piercing is healed.
Don’t smoke anything
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.
How To Clean A Tongue Piercing
You already know that you can use an antiseptic mouthwash, water, and salt water to rinse and keep your tongue piercing clean. We’ve gone over cleaning the jewelry, and you now know that you should keep brushing your teeth daily.
Once your swelling is down, you can also start brushing your tongue again, including brushing the jewelry clean. You should continue rinsing your tongue piercing with mouthwash up to five times per day until the piercing is fully healed.
However, it is possible to clean your mouth too much. If your tongue starts to develop a whitish or yellow film on top, then cut back on the salt water or antiseptic rinses.
If you got a double tongue piercing, try to clean around each one as best as you possibly can.
When Can I Stop Cleaning My Tongue Piercing?
After 6 to 8 weeks, your piercing will be fully healed. But that doesn’t exactly mean you can stop cleaning your tongue piercing. You should always continue keeping your mouth clean.
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.
But 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, and if any sign of irritation develops, or if your piercing is injured, you can use salt water to clean it out and prevent infection.
Getting A New Piercing?
If you're thinking about getting a new piercing of any type, you'll want to ensure you're sufficiently prepared for the hugely important healing stage.
The best piercing aftercare product I've ever had the pleasure of using up to this point is the H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray.
Not only is every single ingredient completely natural, but the spray works brilliantly on all skin types (including sensitive skin) and comes in a very generously sized can.
Many users of the spray advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process, it appears to decrease healing times and helps to reduce any lingering pain/soreness.
Read more about the H2Ocean Piercing Spray here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular piercing sprays on the market.
When Can I Replace My Tongue Piercing Jewelry?
Part of the fun of having a new piercing is getting to put cool jewelry pieces in it. But you have to be patient before you can switch out the jewelry in your tongue piercing, as with any piercing.
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.
Why not just buy a new piece of jewelry and change it yourself? At 7 to 10 days, your swelling and pain may be gone, but that doesn’t mean everything is fully healed. It’s better to have a professional insert the new jewelry while it’s continuing to heal.
Then, after two months are up, as long as you’ve had no complications or infection, you can change out your tongue piercing jewelry whenever you like. Just remember not to leave the jewelry out for extended periods of time.
And remember, always wash your hands before removing or replacing jewelry. It’s also a good idea to wash the jewelry with soap and water before inserting it.
Tongue swelling and difficulty talking are normal parts of the tongue piercing healing process. But you don’t want to prolong those symptoms or make them any worse. So follow the aftercare your piercer recommends, including:
- Keeping hands, teeth, and other people’s body parts or body fluids off your new tongue piercing
- Avoiding irritating foods or substances and alcohol while the piercing heals; that includes alcohol-based mouthwash
- Clean your piercing 4 to 5 times per day, after eating, with an antiseptic mouthwash
- Use a salt water rinse twice a day to speed healing and prevent infection
- Never remove your tongue piercing jewelry for long periods of time
- Always wash your hands before handling the jewelry or piercing, and clean your jewelry with soap and water
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.