Tongue Piercing Do's and Don'ts

Updated July 15, 2022
woman with tongue piercing

Getting your tongue pierced is an important decision that involves several important components. For instance, it is important to find a licensed professional to make sure that proper sanitary procedures are followed. And aftercare techniques are important as well for healing and safety.

Make sure you know the facts before getting your tongue pierced, then explore a list of things you need to avoid after a tongue piercing, like touching the piercing and drinking acidic beverages. Find out how to watch for signs of infection from professionals and why aftercare is essential.

Tongue Piercing Dos

Are you admiring your best friend's new tongue piercing? It's hard not to get the itch to get pierced when you see a new piercing. However, you don't want to jump in your car and hit the nearest shop. It's essential to do your research before getting a tongue piercing since there are some risks involved, like an infection. There are a few things to keep in mind for the best tongue-piercing experience.

Find a Professional

Take your time choosing a piercing professional. Look for someone licensed and works out of a clean shop or office. Check out the professionals around you through places like the Better Business Bureau and look for certifications through the American Red Cross. You might also want to check their reviews. Ask other people with tongue piercings about their experience and who they would recommend.

Research Procedures

Study up on sterile procedures so you can be sure your piercer is following them. Watch to ensure that the needle prepared for your piercing and the other equipment came from a sealed sterile package.

Be Prepared

Go with a friend to get a tongue piercing and watch the procedure if it's permitted. Then you'll truly understand what will happen when you get yours. You can also watch videos on YouTube or online showing how the procedure is performed in a professional shop.

Disinfect and Clean Your Mouth

Clean your mouth thoroughly before you have your tongue pierced. This includes brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue, as well as flossing and gargling with antiseptic (such as Listerine) mouthwash.

Choose the Right Jewelry

close up of barbell on pierced tongue

Take your time selecting your initial jewelry. Your piercer should be able to guide you to a barbell with a sufficiently long post to accommodate the initial swelling that's bound to happen. You can also check out specific initial piercing recommendations offered by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP).

Ask Questions

Ask plenty of questions before the piercing takes place. You are not bothering your piercer by ensuring you understand all that is entailed. A true professional will not mind if you double-check that they are following proper sterile procedures. Once your tongue is pierced, you may not feel like speaking as much.

Try to Relax

Relax as much as possible in preparation for the moment of truth. A little self-hypnosis can help dull the pain.

Follow Aftercare Instructions

Listen carefully to your piercer's instructions about aftercare and try to get them in writing if possible. You can also find specific aftercare and swelling reduction advice offered by the APP.

Manage Pain

Use ice to reduce the initial swelling and dull any residual pain. If the pain is a bit more than you expected, medical experts advise using oral acetaminophen as needed. Do not use ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin. Try to avoid speaking or moving the jewelry to keep the pain manageable.

Eat Soft Foods

Stick to soft foods for the first 24 to 48 hours after your piercing. You'll be less apt to hurt the piercing, and you'll find it easier learning to eat with your new jewelry to contend with.

Use a Cleaning Solution

Just like you wanted a clean mouth before your piercing, it's doubly important to keep it clean after. Brush your teeth after every meal. Aside from cleaning after meals, rinse your mouth several times daily. This can be done with a very mild saltwater solution or an alcohol-free, peroxide-free mouth rinse.

Wash Hands Often

Be sure to wash your hands before each cleaning session and when you need to touch your piercing. This ensures you don't unintentionally spread germs to your tongue piercing.

Watch for Infection Symptoms and Signs

Watch for signs of infection. These can include excessive heat and redness, severe swelling, fever, pus, repeated sharp pains, or persistent throbbing. If your instincts tell you something is wrong, have it checked out by a medical professional.

Go to a Follow Up Visit

tweezer taking out barbell pierced tongue

After the swelling subsides, return to your piercer and have them fit your tongue with a smaller barbell that will provide a proper snug fit.

Tongue Piercing Don'ts

Tongue piercings are a fun way to make a statement and a more discrete facial piercing. Since they are a piercing of the oral cavity, you can experience complications without proper care. Therefore, you want to avoid certain things that can help ensure your procedure and aftercare are done properly.

Keep this list of things to avoid in mind when considering a tongue piercing. Knowing the hazards can help you to have a smooth piercing experience.

Don't Do It Yourself

Unlike the ears or other fleshy areas of your body, the tongue has several moving parts like nerves and gums you can damage if not done correctly. So, seeking a professional piercer is essential when considering piercing your tongue. Attempting to carry out this piercing yourself can lead to complications.

Avoid Low Quality or Dirty Shops

The cleanliness of the shop is vital for any type of piercing. Opt for a different shop if you notice litter, unsanitary practices, or lack of licensing and American Red Cross certifications.

Avoid Low-Quality Studs

The material you choose for your initial piercing can help the healing process and ensure you don't have any allergic reactions. Make sure to choose a high-quality metal, like surgical grade steel or titanium. This material will give you the least amount of trouble while healing.

Don't Choose Short Post Barbell

You'll need the extra length of a longer post to accommodate swelling immediately after the procedure. Your piercer should be able to advise you.

Avoid Contact With Piercing

After the procedure, resist the urge to rub your new jewelry around your mouth and against your teeth, since this could cause damage. Resist the urge to touch your jewelry with your fingers as well. This can import more germs to the open wound. You'll also want to avoid activities that aggravate the piercing, like kissing, until it healed.

Avoid Aspirin

Pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofin can promote bleeding and prolong the healing process.

Don't Smoke

Activities like smoking and sucking through a straw can irritate the wound in your tongue. So, you'll want to avoid them until healed.

Avoid Acidic Beverages and Harsh Mouthwash

You'll want to steer clear of beverages with alcohol or those that are acidic in nature while the wound is still healing. Rather than using a harsh commercial mouthwash, opt for just water or saline to rinse piercing and avoid irritation.

Don't Ignore Aftercare Instructions

Aftercare instructions are essential to ensure your piercing heals properly. These instructions come from leading professionals in the field and help avoid complications.

Don't Forget to Watch for Infection

Deal with any symptoms of infection immediately. A tongue piercing will be painful while healing, but if you notice pain relievers aren't helping or there is a lot of swelling, get it checked out.

Tongue Piercing Guidelines and Care

Tongue piercing dos and don'ts are open to some debate. Some piercers will swear by one method of cleaning for piercings; others will warn you against the same method. You may have to experiment a little to find out what works for you. Some tips should be followed, especially ones that have to do with sanitary methods. Others leave a little wiggle room. When in doubt, ask your piercer for advice.

If you are careful and choose a true licensed professional, you should be in good hands. If you begin to show signs of any complications, see your health care provider. You may never experience any significant problems at all after your piercing, but it's good to know how to keep your healing period on track.

Tongue Piercing Do's and Don'ts