Tongue Aftercare

Tongue piercings require attention to two regimens; oral hygiene and nutrition.


Rinse with the Original (yellow) Listerine at full strength for 30 seconds every 2 (two) hours (no more, no less) for the first 10 (ten) days. Avoid using too much of the Listerine as you can chemically burn your mouth. After 10 (ten) days, switch to a different type of mouthwash and begin slowly increasing the time in between rinses, re-introducing the natural ecology in your mouth, so that by the end of 3 (three) weeks, you are done rinsing. During the first 2-3 days, a white film may form at either end of your piercing. This is sub-lingual epithelia. It is a normal part of the healing process, and should not be removed.

Green and blue Listerine have often been touted as being as effective as the original yellow formula, and indeed they contain the same active ingredients in the same quantities. However, to make the newer varieties more palatable, the makers have added a non-medicinal ingredient called sorbitol, a sugar substitute (safe for diabetics because it can be metabolized without producing blood glucose). Sorbitol will act as a carbon source and will support bacterial growth, which defeats the purpose of using the mouthwash during the first 10 (ten) day period. We have seen too many clients who tried to use the better flavoured varieties of Listerine during the first 10 (ten) days who came back to us with infected tongues within the first week. The yellow Listerine works, and should be used during the initial period after the piercing.


Nutrition is important for the healing of any piercing. The first sign of malnutrition is a swollen tongue. On day 1 (one), eat softer foods that do not require chewing, and keep your mouth as cold as you can, as long as you can (Freezies, Popsicles, etc.). The next day, you should be back on solid foods. Eat normally but take smaller bites and chew carefully. This will not be very comfortable, but it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. The soup diet does not cut it.


Any muscle tissue which has been injured will swell, and your tongue is no exception. Swelling following your tongue piercing can be significant, making eating and talking difficult. Peak swelling usually occurs between 48 to 72 hours following your piercing, and will abate after that time. In some cases the swelling will persist longer, but we have generally found that alcohol consumption, or an underlying medical condition (anemia, diabetes, current infection) is contributing.

DO NOT PLAY WITH IT! You will increase the amount of swelling and potentially damage your teth, gums and tongue in the process. Extra Strength Midol will reduce muscle inflamation over the first 4 days. This product was designed to ease menstrual cramping, and we have found it to be very effective reducing swelling of your tongue. After 3-4 weeks, a fitted barbell is strongly recommended. It GREATLY reduces the risk of damage to teeth, gums, etc.

Do NOT consume alcohol for at least 5 days after a tongue piercing! Then, please drink responsibly. Consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can be dangerous. If your tongue is re-injured and starts to bleed, high blood alcohol can result in poor clotting, and the excessive bleeding can cause enough swelling to occlude the airway. Strangulation could result if extraordinary measures are not taken to keep the airway clear.

Tongue piercing: Stainless steel 12g 3/4-inch barbell with 6mm threaded balls in fresh tongue piercing.

Stainless steel 12g 3/4" barbell with 6mm threaded balls in fresh tongue piercing.

For a detailed explanation of the healing protocols for all piercings, download our Piercing Aftercare Manual.

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