Oral Piercing Aftercare: Tongue & Lips

Tongue and lip piercings are very popular these days. With the right oral piercing aftercare, they tend to heal very nicely. You may need to change your eating and drinking habits during the healing process so keep this in mind.

You will still need to clean the exterior area with an approved soap for a lip or cheek piercing.  The cleaning instructions are the same as the basic body piercing aftercare instructions on the previous page.  A saline soak is also needed.  Tongues are different and as you probably know we won’t be using soap.

Oral Piercing AftercareSpecial aftercare is need when taking care of the inside of your mouth.  You will need one or both of the following, a sea salt mixture and/or an antimicrobial mouthwash.  The sea salt is quite cheap and easy to mix.  Here is a basic measurement guide, you may use a little more or less.  Remember more salt doesn’t won’t make the area “cleaner” it can actually hurt the healing process.

Sea Salt Water
1/4 teaspoon cup 8oz
1    teaspoon quart 32oz
4    teaspoons gallon

If you use mouthwash you will need one that is not alcohol based.  Biotene is a good option.  It is best to limit your use of mouthwash to a maximum of 5 times in one day.

After eating, drinking, or smoking (which should be avoided) rinse your mouth for 30-60 seconds with the salt mix or the mouthwash.  Bottled or distilled water is fine, no need to rinse after that.

What to Expect and Avoid While Your Tongue or Lip Piercing is Healing

Swelling is very normal from an oral piercing.  It may be present for up to two weeks.

What to Do

  • You may take an anti-inflammatory like an ibuprofen if you would like.  These are brands like Motrin, Advil or you can just get the generics from a grocery or drugstore it’s all the same.
  • Allow small pieces of ice to dissolve in your mouth.  This can be very soothing the first few days of a new tongue or lip piercing.
  • Keep your head elevated with some extra pillows for a few nights, it will reduce swelling.
  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is important.  Buy a new soft bristled brush. Make sure to floss regularly.  The cleaner your mouth the better.
  • With a tongue piercing, you will need to check to make sure the ball is secure occasionally.  Before doing this wash your hands and afterward do a mouth rinse.

What to Avoid

  • Please avoid touching the piercing.
  • Don’t play with the jewelry.  It is very easy to damage a tooth or your gums.
  • Stop smoking.  If you can’t or won’t try to cut back as much as you can and rinse after.
  • Excessive wet kissing or oral sex can very easily lead to infection. Avoid oral sex and if you are wet kissing have the partner brush beforehand.
  • Stay away from gum and anything else you may chew excessively.
  • Don’t share utensils or drinks; it’s very easy to pass germs this way.
  • Stay out of bodies of water that may be unsterile or loaded with chemicals.
  • Most of all use your common sense. Remember it’s an open wound keep it clean.

This list might seem excessive but it really will help your tongue or lip piercing heal. Many things pass through the mouth so you must be extra careful.

Another word of caution, take the time to really consider your lip or tongue piercing. Someone close to me had both a labret and tongue piercing and she had them for years. Both had been out for quite a while before her dentist noticed her gums had been deteriorating. So she needed several skin grafts to repair the damage and trust me it was not cheap. Now my point here is not to scare you or turn you off of these piercings but these things do happen.

So don’t play with the jewelry.

Enough with the tough luck stories though. Do what your piercer recommends; different environments can lead to variations in the aftercare. Remember there is no substitute for a medical opinion. If you feel your piercing is infected or causing a serious problem pay your doctor a visit. I am not a medical doctor and your piercer probably isn’t either.