How to Disinfect Your Tongue Piercing

Clean your tongue piercing daily to keep it disinfected.
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Piercers perform tongue piercings with a straight barbell, usually in a 12 or 14 gauge. In order to avoid infection, it's important to clean your piercing properly -- and with proper aftercare, it will take approximately six weeks for your piercing to heal completely. Although it might seem like an alcohol-based mouthwash would be the best disinfectant, it's actually too harsh for a puncture wound. But disinfecting your piercing is simple to do and will likely be problem free if you are adequately attentive and don't skip a cleansing.

Change your toothbrush the day you get your tongue pierced and weekly thereafter -- or more often if you have a cold, infection or bleeding. Use only a soft toothbrush and avoid brushing the piercing itself. Brush after every meal and, if possible, brush before rinsing your mouth.

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of iodine-free sea salt into one cup of warm bottled water and pour enough to rinse your mouth into a disposable paper cup.

Rinse your mouth with the disinfectant solution for a full 30 seconds.

Repeat every morning and evening, after every meal and after drinking any beverage other than water. Store the solution in the refrigerator between uses. As an alternative, purchase an antimicrobial, alcohol-free mouthwash from your pharmacy or piercer.

Disinfect your jewelry after your piercing has healed by removing it from your tongue with your freshly clean hands and washing it with antibacterial soap and hot water for one to two minutes. Rinse the jewelry with hot water and pat it dry with a paper towel.

  • Do not kiss while your tongue piercing is healing. Only the bacteria from your own mouth should touch the jewelry during the six-week healing period.
  • Do not smoke while your piercing is healing, as this can significantly increase healing time.
  • Contact your doctor immediately if your tongue becomes infected.
  • Have your jewelry changed by a professional piercer as soon as the swelling of your tongue goes down. The long bar used for the initial piercing should be downsized to avoid dental damage.

S.R. Becker is a certified yoga teacher based in Queens, N.Y. She has a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has worked as a writer and editor for more than 15 years. Becker often writes for "Yoga in Astoria," a newsletter about studios throughout New York City.