So in our last blog (Part 1), we delved into the potentially negative (and possibly even dangerous) impact oral piercings may have on teeth, oral hygiene, and health in general. But not to worry – for those of you who already have an oral piercing, it isn’t all doom and gloom. There have been plenty of successful oral piercings that have not resulted in negative outcomes. The secret (that is not so secret) is found in how you care for the piercing post-treatment.
Immediately After Piercing
Just like any other bodily wound or puncture, the body will react immediately with swelling at the traumatised area. The blood rushes to that area to try and heal the wound. So first thing’s first: cool the area down to minimise swelling. You can do this by drinking icy cold drinks and by being careful not to move your tongue too much. (This means hot drinks and foods won’t be very helpful for the first few days.) You can also lessen the blood flow to your tongue by keeping your head elevated while you sleep.
As previously mentioned in the last blog (Part 1), infection is a major concern, particularly at the early stages of healing. You should rinse your mouth with anti-bacterial mouthwash or a warm saline solution (salt water). Rinse your mouth on a regular basis (i.e. at least after meals).
Try to use mouthwashes that are not alcohol-based. The alcohol can cause a burning sensation at the site of the piercing and really irritate the wound. In fact, don’t drink alcohol in general until your piercing has healed. Also, don’t consume spicy, salty, or acidic foods/drinks, and especially avoid smoking during the first two weeks. Smoking prolongs the healing process as it restricts blood flow.
(But wait, three paragraphs ago, blood flow was a bad thing because of swelling. Why is blood flow a good thing now? Swelling is caused by an excessive amount of blood rushing to the site. Smoking heavily restricts blood flow, more than usual. The volume of white blood cells, which are required for the healing process, are reduced significantly.)
If you’re still experiencing the following after several days, you should definitely seek professional medical advice either from your doctor or your dentist:
- excessive pain;
- excessive swelling;
- severe redness;
- excessive bleeding;
- a bad smell;
- rash; and/or
After Your Piercing is Healed
In our previous blog (Part 1), we spoke about the fact that a lot of the damage comes from the tongue piercing being in constant contact with teeth. This could lead to teeth movement, chipping, or even cracking. Try to be aware of this risk and keep your tongue away from your teeth (and gums) as much as possible. This advice also applies to lip piercings where the back of the jewellery could be regularly hitting the front teeth.
Regularly check that the piercing is securely attached to avoid accidentally swallowing your jewellery. Try not to habitually play with your piercing. That may irritate the site of your piercing but it could also lead to teeth or gum damage.
Obviously, maintenance of good oral hygiene is key. You can lower the risk of infection by brushing and flossing daily, as well as visiting your dentist regularly.
Ensure you take off the oral jewellery and wear a mouthguard when taking part in any physical sport or exercise. This will protect your teeth, gums, and mouth.
Opt for a less damaging material (like bioplast or balls made of polymer) instead of stainless steel if you are not particularly fussed with the material of your jewellery. Your teeth will thank you for it.