Aftercare – Oral

Soft Tissue and Muscle
Oral Piercings
General Healing Times
  • Labret – 2 to 3 months
  • Lip – 2 to 3 months
  • Beauty Mark (aka Monroe, Madonna, Crawford) – 2 to 3 months
  • Tongue – 1 to 2 months

General Aftercare

Before reading this section, please take the time to read the article, general aftercare for your piercing. While the information below has additional instructions on the care of your particular piercing, the general aftercare page has information that applies to all types of piercing.

Cleaning – Mouthwash

The risk of infection with oral piercing is relatively low. This is due to your mouth’s natural anti-microbial enzymes called Ptyalin and Lingual Antimicrobial Peptide that work to destroy bacteria in the mouth. While many piercers recommend rinsing your mouth with mouthwash after eating, smoking or drinking anything (other than water), it is essential that you don’t overuse the mouthwash. Using too much mouthwash can destroy the mouth’s internal enzyme ballance. As a recommendation, you should dilute the mouthwash with 50% water. One point I would like to make is that most mouthwash manufacturers use a dye to color the mouthwash, either blue, green or amber. These dyes tend to tint the tongue in unusual ways. Don’t panic if you see your tongue turning green. Simply reduce your useage of the mouthwash or water it down more.

This mouthwash regimen should be followed strictly for the first two weeks of getting the piercing. After that you can start reducing the frequency until you are down to just rinsing with full strength mouthwash during your daily oral hygene routine. I also suggest you get a mouthwash that has anti-plaque forming properties. This will help reduce the buildup of plaque on the jewelry.

Cleaning – Brushing

Your oral hygiene routine should not change significantly. Brush your teeth twice a day as you normally would. The only difference being that with an oral piercing you should also brush the jewelry, top and bottom, to prevent plaque build up. You should also check that the balls are snug on the tongue or labret jewelry and have not loosened up during the day. You would not want to swallow a ball or the bar itself while you are sleeping. Swallowing jewelry has been known to happen.

Jewelry Migration and Nesting

There is a period of time when the skin tissue around the piercing adjusts itself to the jewelry. This is called nesting. As with most piercing, it takes a while for the mouth to get used to having a piece of metal in it. Often as long as a month. As the jewelry nests itself, there is some degree of migration. Migration is the movement of the jewelry in the skin as the body adjusts itself to accepting the foreign object. With the tongue, the barbell tends to angle forward and labrets tend to angle downward. Rings for lip piercing tend to do the most migrating during the nesting period as they are played with more often than a bar. Keep in mind that this migration is normal and is not because your piercer did something wrong.

Suggested Cleaning Products

The following list is for quick reference only and is by no means a complete list of available products. Please read and follow all recommended directions accompanying each product you use.

Antiseptic Cleanser

First aid antiseptic and pain reliever such as Bactine ® or EarCare ®. Their principal ingredient is Benzalkonium Chloride, which is excellent for healing a piercing. These cleaning solutions are to be used on the external part of certain oral piercing such as, labret, beauty mark and lip piercing. Do Not Use Internally.

Anti-Bacterial Soap

An antimicrobial soap such as Dial ®, Soft Soap ® or Provon ®. This is used for general cleaning of external areas of all piercing. You need to ensure that all the soap gets rinsed out completely from the inside of the piercing.

Oral Rinse

Antiseptic mouthwash like Listerine ®, Scope ® or Signal ®. Listerine ® is one of the strongest mouthwashes available without a prescription and is very harsh for a fresh piercing. It is recommended that you dilute it with about 50% water. Although oral rinses are not as strong as Listerine ®, it is still recommended that you dilute them with about 50% water.

Oral Piercing Care

Tongue Piercing

Standard tongue piercing

There are a lot of myths surrounding tongue piercing. Therefore I will first tell you that it can’t paralyze your face. You can’t lose your sense of taste and you won’t be talking funny for the rest of your life.

Shortly after your tongue gets pierced, you will experience swelling to a degree. For this reason the initial piercing is normally done with oversized jewelry. Chewing on ice and taking a couple of anti-inflammatory pills such as Ibuprofen is suggested shortly after getting pierced. Another alternative is to buy throat lozenges that have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to them. Once the piercing has healed you will need to reduce the length of the barbell to a smaller, more comfortable and less obtrusive size. I often suggest getting barbells with acrylic balls rather than stainless steel balls. Should you bite down on the jewelry, it is the hope that the plastic balls will break rather than your tooth.

Aside from talking funny for the first few days, you may notice an increase in saliva for the first week or so. This is a natural reaction your body does whenever there is something in the mouth. Since your body doesn’t realize this object is now a permanent accessory, it just does what is natural.

Some piercers say that a tongue piercing heals within a week and a half to two weeks. While the muscle that is pierced may heal within this time, the surrounding tissue is still adjusting itself to the jewelry and can be very tender. Often it is at this stage that many people will become aggravated with the piercing and remove it. All I can say is that you need to have patience. On average I find it takes about a full month to get used to the new jewelry.

Labret, Lip & Beauty Mark Piercing

Beauty mark piercings have a variety of placements

These three piercing follow the same mouthwash aftercare as a tongue piercing. However, there is the added care of having to clean the crusting that forms around the outer area of the piercing. As with any piercing, do not use any slaves, ointments or creams as they tend to trap bacteria. You should also not over do the cleaning as bacteria has the potential to build up a resistance to the cleaning products. It is suggested that you clean a piercing no more than twice a day.

Soak a clean paper towel with warm water and apply it to the outside of the piercing like a compress. This loosens any crusting that has formed around the jewelry. Gently flush away the loosened crusting. You can also use a damp cotton swab to carefully remove any crusting. Use antibacterial soap or antiseptic cleanser to clean the outer area of the piercing. Lather some soap on your fingertips or spray a liberal amount of the cleanser to the outside of the jewelry and rotate or wiggle it back and forth to get the cleanser into the opening. Use a fresh wet paper towel to clean the excess cleanser from the area or flush with clean water. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.