ORAL PIERCING AFTERCARE
What To Expect
- Swelling of the area is perfectly normal during the first part of healing of an oral piercing. It can be greatly reduced by gently sucking (rather than chewing) on clean ice. Chipped or shaved ice, or small cubes are best. The majority of the swelling usually lasts for only 3-5 days.
- Any new piercing can bleed off and on for a few days. There can also be some bleeding under the surface resulting in temporary bruising or discoloration. This is perfectly normal and not indicative of any complication.
- Some tenderness or discomfort in the area of a new piercing is not unusual. You may feel aching, pinching, tightness or other unpleasant sensations off and on for several days or longer.
- Don't be alarmed if you see a fairly liquid, yellowish secretion coming from the piercing. This is blood plasma, lymph and dead cells which is perfectly normal. All healing piercings secrete, it just looks different inside the mouth as it doesn't have a chance to dry and form a crust as it does on ear or body piercings. This is not pus, but indicates a healing piercing.
- Plaque may form on tongue jewelry, commonly on the bottom ball and/or post. Scrub your barbell with a soft bristled toothbrush (gently during healing). If you are diligent with oral hygiene the jewelry will not need to be removed for cleaning, and it can usually be left in even for routine visits to the dentist.
- Piercings may have a tendency to have a series of ups and downs during healing by seeming healed and then regressing. Try to be patient, and do keep cleaning during the entire initial healing time, even if the piercing seems healed sooner.
- Once initial swelling is down, having your piercer replace the post portion of bar style jewelry with a shorter post may be wise. Jewelry which fits more closely is less likely to irritate your mouth or get between your teeth and be bitten.
- If you like your piercing, leave jewelry in at all times. Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person and even if your ear lobe piercings stay open without jewelry your oral piercing may not!
- Keep following the care procedures during the entire minimum initial healing time, even if the piercing seems healed sooner.
WHAT TO DO
- WASH YOUR HANDS prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry while healing except possibly during cleaning.
- Try to sleep with your head propped up on pillows during the first few nights of healing; keeping your head above your heart will help to avoid much initial overnight swelling.
- An over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) taken according to package instructions can reduce discomfort, and it can also help to diminish swelling the first few days.
- Check twice daily with clean hands to be sure the threaded ends on your jewelry are on tight. To clean hands, wash them carefully with liquid antibacterial soap. If your hands aren't freshly washed, don't touch yourself above the neck during the initial healing time.
- Replace your toothbrush and make sure to keep it clean so that everything that goes into your mouth is hygienic while you are healing. A sensitive type of toothpaste may be less irritating to your mouth during healing than a usual, stronger variety.
- Try to go slowly when you eat and to take small bites when you are getting used to your new jewelry. Cold foods and beverages feel great and can help diminish swelling. Drink plenty of liquids, especially bottled water.
· Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.
WASH your hands thoroughly with anti-microbial or germicidal soap prior to cleaning, or touching on or near your piercing.
- Rinse mouth for 30-60 seconds with solution (see Cleaning Solutions above) after meals during the entire minimum initial healing time. Do not use more than 4-5 times daily and use it over intervals spaced throughout the entire day.
- Rinse mouth briefly (10-15 seconds) with the mild sea salt mixture (see recipe above) no more than twice a day. If you are cleaning too often, the top of your tongue will start to turn a white to yellowish color. Continue to clean your piercing, but reduce the number of times you are cleaning it per day.
· A new soft bristled toothbrush should be purchased, to help reduce the bacterium that is introduced into your mouth. Do not use toothpaste containing peroxide.
Cleaning Solutions & What to Avoid
Hints & Tips
Use: An alcohol-free antimicrobial or antibacterial mouth rinse should be used according to package instructions. Two examples are Tech 2000 and Biotene. Listerine may be used by diluting 50/50 with distilled or bottled water. Mild sea salt water rinses: Dissolve a pinch (1/4 teaspoon) non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt to one cup (8 oz.) warm to hot distilled or bottled water. (Avoid hot water for the first few days.)
· No oral sexual contact including French (wet) kissing or oral sex during the entire initial healing period, even if you are in a monogamous relationship. (If you had a large cut you would not allow anyone to spit into it! This is essentially the same thing.)
· Avoid chewing on gum, tobacco, fingernails, pencils, sunglasses, etc., during healing. Don't share plates, cups or eating utensils. Reducing smoking or quitting is highly advisable when healing an oral piercing. Smoking increases risks and can lengthen the healing time. Avoid undue stress and recreational drug usage.
· Stay away from aspirin, large amounts of caffeine, beer, wine, and dairy products (i.e. milk, cottage cheese) for the first several days. These can cause additional swelling, bleeding and discomfort. Refrain from eating spicy, salty, acidic, or hot temperature foods and beverages for a few days.
· Do not play with the piercing for the initial healing time beyond the necessary movement for speaking and eating. The mouth withstands a lot of trauma from normal speaking and eating. Try to avoid other disturbances such as excessive talking, actively playing with the jewelry, or clicking the jewelry against your teeth. Undue stress on the piercing can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration and other complications.
· Even after healing, excessive play with oral jewelry can result in permanent damage to teeth, gums, and oral structures. Metal is harder than the human body; be gentle.
· Do not use Listerine (or other mouthwash which contains alcohol) at full strength. It can irritate the area and delay healing. If using Listerine (or another alcohol based mouthwash), be sure to dilute it 50/50 with distilled or bottled water.
· Don't use too many different products; select and use only one cleaning solution plus sea salt.
· Some piercees will carry a spare ball in their wallet or purse. This is particularly advisable if you wear non-metallic balls such as acrylic, which is more fragile.
· On barbells/labret studs you may change the ball portion of the jewelry at any time, but the original post should remain until initial swelling is down.
For Specific Areas
· Try to focus on keeping your tongue level in your mouth to avoid biting on the jewelry as you eat. Your mouth is likely to feel uncoordinated at first, but this will pass.
· Try eating small bites of solid foods by placing food directly onto the molars with clean fingers or a fork. Food that is already in the back of the mouth doesn't have to get moved there by your tongue.
· Gently brush your tongue and jewelry when you are healing. Once healed brush tongue and jewelry thoroughly to keep plaque away.
LIP / CHEEK
· Be cautious about opening your mouth wide when you eat, as this can result in the backing of the jewelry catching on your teeth. Take small bites and go slowly at first.
· The outside of the piercing may become somewhat red or pink during healing and this is normal. Refer to the "Body Piercing Aftercare" page for instructions on how to care for the exterior surface of such a piercing.
Estimated Healing Times
· Lip/Labret/Monroe 2-6 months
· Tongue 3-6 months
Immediately contact your healthcare provider at any signs of abnormal swelling, inflammation, or infection. Do not remove your jewelry if you have signs of infection. The holes must remain open to prevent an abscess from forming.