Tongue, lip, cheek or uvula piercings are popular among teens and adults alike. We typically advise against oral piercings, but if your teen already has one, here’s some advice for taking care of properly.
In the past, we’ve written about the risks of oral piercings when it comes to oral health. If they’re properly cleaned and cared for on a regular basis, it's less likely that oral piercings will cause health issues.
First of all, if you don’t have a piercing yet, but have decided to get one, protect yourself by doing the following:
- Confirm with your doctor that you’re up to date with your hepatitis B and tetanus vaccines
- Select a piercing shop that is clean and well run (look for reviews online)
- Choose a licenced piercer (meaning she has been specially trained)
- Make sure the piercer is willing to openly answers all your questions
- Ask if everyone who works in the shop is up to date on their hep B and tetanus vaccines
- Make sure the jewelry is made of surgical steel, gold or platinum
- Before the piercing takes place, make sure that the piercer washes her hands with antibacterial soap, wears fresh disposable gloves, and uses sterilized or single-use tools
Taking Care of Your Piercing
Your mouth is full of bacteria, and this means that even once they've healed, oral piercings are more susceptible to infection than most.
When your piercing is fresh and still healing (which usually takes 3 weeks to a month), take extra care in cleaning it to make sure it does not become infected during the healing process.
During the healing process:
- Before bed and after exery meal and snack, rinse your oral piercing with warm salt water or an alcohol-free, antibacterial mouth wash
- Avoid any contact with other people’s saliva. Don’t kiss anyone, and don’t share cutlery, plates or glasses.
- Eat healthy food, in small bites
- Avoid hot drinks
Try to choose small or low-profile jewelry for your piercing. If you have a tongue piercing, your piercer will likely have given you a large barbell to start with, to give your tongue room to heal around the swelling. Once the swelling goes down, replace the barbell with a smaller one that’s less likely to cause damage to your teeth.
After Healing: Day-to-Day Care
Once the healing process is complete, take the jewelry out every night before bed and clean it thoroughly. Take your jewelry out to sleep, or before engaging in physical activity, to avoid swallowing it accidentally or damaging your teeth.