How to Treat a Fresh Tongue Piercing

Young man showing off his tongue ring
A man showing off his tongue piercing. (Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc../Blend Images/Getty Images)

While currently gaining popularity, tongue piercing is not a new practice. The Aztecs pierced their tongues and other body parts as a potentially dangerous form of ritual sacrifice. Although modern piercings have more of an aesthetic foundation, a new tongue piercing can become dangerously infected if not cared for properly.

Step 1

Place small pieces of crushed ice on your tongue as soon as you awaken on the day after you have your tongue pierced. Your tongue will likely be swollen the morning after the piercing. Allow the ice to melt on your tongue, but avoid sucking or chewing on the ice. Use the ice as needed throughout the day, and also drink cold water to help alleviate the pain and swelling.

Step 2

Rinse your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds with a cleaning solution every time you eat or drink anything other than plain water, before you go to bed and when you wake in the morning. If your piercer did not provide a special solution for rinsing, you can use saline or alcohol-free antibacterial mouth rinse. Rinse in this manner for the first seven days following your tongue piercing.

Step 3

Rinse with 1/4 tsp. of iodine-free sea salt in one cup of warm bottled or distilled water for 10 to 15 seconds once or twice each day during the first week. This rinse will help to speed the healing process.

Step 4

Brush and floss your teeth regularly. Maintaining proper oral hygiene is vital with a fresh tongue piercing, as bacteria on your teeth and gums can find their way to your tongue and cause an infection. Avoid brushing your tongue while the piercing heals.

Step 5

Check the balls on the ends of your barbell every night to ensure that it does not come loose, causing the bar to fall out of the piercing. Make sure to brush your teeth and wash your hands thoroughly before touching the barbell.

Things You'll Need

  • Crushed ice

  • Alcohol-free antibacterial mouth rinse

  • Iodine-free sea salt

  • Bottled or distilled water


Avoid chewing anything besides food, such as gum or tobacco, until your tongue has healed.


Tongue piercing can have serious side effects, including tooth fractures, nerve damage, and difficulty speaking or chewing. Infection can develop, causing pain, severe swelling, fever and chills. Seek medicine attention right away if you experience any of these side effects.

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