Tongue piercing care encompasses all the activities you undertake before, during, and after the boring process. Why is it important? To hasten the healing process, to avoid infections and any other unhealthy complications. Read on to find out considerations before piercing, healing time, aftercare instructions & tips
Tongue piercing care-Before Considerations
What should you consider before piercing?
- Basics of oral piercing – piercing sites in the oral cavity, on the tongue, frenum (soft tissue touching both the underside of the tongue and the uvula. The commonest site of piercing is the tongue. You should know the site you wish to have pierced and its correlation with your health
- Health concerns – if you have known metal allergies, especially to the metal of the barbell, don’t get pierced or get another metal recommended by the piercer that it is a non-irritant.
- The level of pain – pain is subjective and owing to pain threshold you can tolerate, decide whether or not you will sit through it. Pain scales of the different tongue piercings are available in online platforms and interviews. Ask a friend you know has gone through the procedure. Then decide.
- Lifestyle suitability – most of those who have piercings find a way to embrace their concealed self-realized identities. There are others who just love painful pleasures. Others do it because their career allows them to such as the music industry. While you want this badass you to manifest on your skin, consider the impression it may have on your career. You might have heard of interviews in which body piercings and any other art-work are highly discouraged. It may work to your disadvantage when it comes to company policies and dressing.
- Healing time – you should probably be wary of the time the wound will heal as it also may hamper your daily activities. How long would it take? How do you know that the healing process you are observing is normal? If you are not able to take in the not-less-than 4 days healing process, you could revisit the whole idea when you can.
- Maintenance – take a look at the time and resource allocation you will need in the after-care. If you think it will need a level of care you will not be able to provide, then don’t risk your tongue. Get to know the recommended and contraindicated maintenance methods from your piercer or a dentist.
- Possible complications – what happens when all goes haywire? You should know what to expect when you meet different signs on pierced site. Get to know how to interpret them but not self-diagnosing. This should only help you know when to rush to your doctor. Understanding the complications will also determine whether your current state of health or age will be able to sustain and hopefully heal up.
- The piercing studio– do your research well and get a reputable and established studio. Avoiding infections and nerve or blood vessel damage as much as possible should be your mainstay aim too. Today’s era has seen many infections crop up some of which are drug-resistant. Have the standards you want to meet and match them with the studio you are targeting. A good studio should be:
- Ask about the piercer’s training and experience
- Studio should have separate areas for piercing and tattooing.
- Should have an autoclave for sterilization of piercing tools.
- Piercing equipment should be opened in your presence and used once
- During each procedure, check that the staff are using new latex gloves
- Disagree with the use of a piercing ‘gun’ as this cannot be sterilized to par.
- Jewelry should be non-allergenic such as gold, niobium, titanium, platinum or stainless steel-300 series. Gold-plated or gold-filled sterling silver are not appropriate materials to be used. (Association of Professional Piercers)[i]
- Follow your instincts and leave if you are uncomfortable. (University of Michigan)[ii]
- Age – since piercing is a major decision, age does matter and consultations done. Check the laws of your country and consider consulting your parents and getting their consent if they allow it.
Tongue Piercing Healing Time
How long does it take?
For a fully healed wound, 3 to 6 weeks may be required. However, the inflammation lasts for the first 10 to 14 days (Piercology.com). Tongue piercings are considered one of the fastest healing body piercings due to the antiseptic properties of saliva. It may still vary from one person to another and various other factors.
What are the determinants of healing time?
- After-care treatment – how you take care of your piercing will greatly determine how long it will take to heal. After-care methods are discussed later in this material.
- Foods and drinks consumed – if you are consuming foods and drinks that you are to avoid, you shouldn’t expect a faster healing time.
- Barbell and jewelry used (Fred Balzac)[iii] – those that you are allergic to may result in an allergy and you probably won’t realize for a while that the swelling is not just a normal inflammation.
- The type of piercing – depends on the blood supply of the site. There is a difference in this between tongue web and spider eyes piercings.
- General health – if you have an underlying condition such as a compromised immune system, you won’t be able to fight infections well.
Tongue Piercing Healing Process & Tips
A brief overview of the healing process in stages
- Day 1. Swelling occurs almost immediately and will progress until the first 5 days. Swelling hampers your speech and you will have to subsist on soft foods such as mashed potatoes. You will have an excess amount of saliva.
- Day 3-5. At this stage, the swelling reduces.
- Day 7-10.Depending on the outcome and the size of inflammation, your barbell will be replaced with a shorter one.
It is normal during the healing process to:
- Have a tender and a bit tingly tongue
- See white fluids around the wound which disappear due to hyper salivation.
- See a yellow film on the tongue caused by overuse of mouthwash (more than 3 times daily).
It is however abnormal during the healing process to:
- See a blood-stained tongue
- See a green or black discoloration of the tongue
- Have a swollen tongue beyond 14 days
- Experience a burning sensation too often.
Tips to hasten the healing process
- Talk little during the first 3 days until swelling resolves
- Avoid smoking as the wound heals
- Use non-alcoholic mouthwashes while avoiding alcoholic types and beverages
- Stay away from oral sex and kissing to prevent infections.
- Use saline non-iodized sea salt solution but not one prepared from Epsom salt and table salt. Betadine, hydrogen peroxide and antibacterial creams such as Bacitracin and Neosporin should be avoided.
Tongue Piercing Aftercare Instructions & Tips
You may not need to read this material if you get a good professional piercer who will give you detailed instructions on the same. You will want to follow the following tips on cleaning methods.
- Saline non-iodized sea salt solution. Below is a guideline you could follow:
- Get a 240 mL cup of warm water,
- Add a quarter teaspoon of the non-iodized sea salt and stir to dissolve,
- Rinse gently for about 30 – 60 second. You could decide to wipe around the area with a cotton wool.
- Do this 3 times a day for a week.
Note that if you have a known heart condition or high blood pressure, saline solution may worsen the condition. Consult your doctor.
- Brush and floss your teeth to prevent a buildup of bacteria in the oral cavity. If you choose to brush your teeth, do this so gently to prevent irritating the pierced site.
- Since it is recommended that you check the bar’s tightness before your sleep, ensure that your hands are washed. Make sure that you have brushed your teeth too before this procedure to avoid carrying the bacteria when checking its tightness.
Foods to eat and avoid
To-eat foods include cool broths, protein shakes, mashed potatoes, bland foods such as yoghurt and ice cream. Mashed potatoes are however most preferred once the wound has healed significantly. Scrambled eggs too can be consumed.
When taking such foods, place at the hind section of your mouth but be careful not to induce vomiting during this. Keep your tongue level during eating to avoid sticking between the teeth.
Salty, chilly, acidic and hot foods and drinks are not recommended as the piercing wound heals.
Avoid foods that are salted with table salt as it has been touted to cause irritation too. Taking chilly, acidic and hot foods is not be a good decision. Avoid alcoholic beverages too.
Any other aftercare tips
Now that you know how to effectively clean your oral cavity and foods to take and avoid, here are some more tips that may help hasten the healing process:
- Don’t play with the jewelry as the wound heals no matter how tempting it may be.
- Avoid chewing gum as this may cause irritation to the healing area of the tongue.
- Purchase a new toothbrush for the healing period. It will be best too if you got a new one every other week until the wound has completely healed.
- If you suspect infection see your doctor, as serious infections can be fatal.
- Check regularly that the balls are screwed securely onto the barbell to avoid swallowing or breathing them into your lungs.