How to Clean a Tongue Ring

Thanks to the abundance of saliva in the mouth, the tongue piercing heals faster than the other types. However, it is a warm and moist environment that contains millions of bacteria.

How to Clean a Tongue Ring 2

Unfortunately, piercing creates an open wound. Therefore, you should be aware that you can quickly get infected if you don’t take care of your oral hygiene after the procedure. Once your tongue recovers, all you need is to accept a habit of cleaning and disinfecting the jewelry daily. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to clean a tongue ring. Let’s see.

Cleaning During the Healing Time

Cleaning During the Healing Time

On average, a healing process after the tongue piercing lasts several weeks, depending on your immunity and cardiovascular system, as well as food and drinks you consume. Your discipline and regular cleaning can shorten this period.

Usual symptoms you can notice after the procedure include swelling, bleeding, pain, and secretion. Some of them may disappear in a few hours, while hypersensitivity can last for a month or so. Try to restrain yourself from playing with the tongue balls and touching them with your teeth.

Don’t worry if you notice you excrete more saliva than before. It is a body’s reaction to a ring as a foreign object. The good news is your saliva speeds up the recovery time and prevents infection.

Appropriate cleaning during the healing time is crucial, especially rinsing. It will help if you rinse your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash, such as Listerine, whenever you eat or drink anything besides water. Make sure you choose the alcohol-free product.

You can also use sea salt mixed with the distillate water. Buy a new, soft toothbrush when you pierce the tongue and use it several times a day to remove all the food that sticks around the balls.

Some people avoid taking the jewelry out, but it is vital to clean the piercing with rubbing alcohol at least once a day.  After a few days, remove the balls gently, soak it in alcohol for about ten minutes, and rinse them with water.

Purchase a gauze pad in any pharmacy and use it to dry the jewelry since the towel or paper napkins are not sterile. Remember that alcohol can distort the plastic ring shape. If you have one, use only the boiling water for cleaning.

Daily Routine When the Wound Heals

The risk of infection decreases as the tongue heals, but the daily cleaning habit is obligatory for all oral piercing types. Don’t allow yourself the luxury of skipping a day because poor hygiene may lead to several gum and teeth issues.

Washing hands

Get used to washing your hands more often, especially when touching your tongue and balls. Use a mild antibacterial soap before you handle the jewelry.


Each time you brush your teeth, clean the tongue, too. Use the toothbrush to remove the food that sticks to the ring balls and inside the hole. Buy only soft and extra soft toothbrushes and change them regularly.

You can even have one separate toothbrush for the tongue and piercing. Small, baby-sized models are gentle and won’t irritate soft tissue. After you finish brushing, rinse the mouth for 60 seconds with an antiseptic mouthwash.

Sea salt

You can also use the sea salt solution for rinsing. Mix a pinch of salt with warm water and gurgle it in the mouth for a minute. Repeat this process after every meal.


Once a day, take out the ring and disinfect it. Soak it in rubbing alcohol or boiling water for about ten minutes. That way, you will remove the plaque from the piercing. Use the cotton pads or sterile gauze to dry the jewelry.

Taking the Ring Out

Taking the Ring Out

From time to time, you need to take your tongue balls out and clean them thoroughly. Loose the balls carefully before you unscrew them and take them off the barbell. Be careful not to swallow any part or drop it into the sink.

There are several methods to remove plaque deposits. Start with placing the piercing in a shallow glass or porcelain bowl and soaking it with hydrogen peroxide.

If there are bacteria on the ring, the solution will start to foam immediately. Leave the jewelry soaked for several minutes, rinse it with clean water and place it back in the tongue when completely drying it.

Remember that the tongue is one of the muscles that regenerates fast. The time before the hole closes depends on how long have you wear the jewelry. During the first week of your piercing, even an hour without it can be too much, and you may feel pain, tightness, and discomfort when you put the balls back.

Therefore, it would be wise to have spare tongue balls. Since you can change the ring after the piercing healed, keep the original jewelry as the backup if you need to leave the one you usually wear soaked longer.

In that case, you can also use the denture cleaning solution and tabs. Take the ring out, place it in the small cup, and leave it overnight in the mix of distillate water and denture tablet. In the morning, take off backup and put the disinfected jewelry back.

Tongue piercing age

Allowed time without the ring Average time for closing the hole
one week 15 minutes

1 to 2 hours

6 months

2 to 3 hours 24 hours
5 years overnight

5 to 7 days

Preventing Infection

Preventing Infection
Image: something borrowed

The highest risk of various infections is during the first month after you pierce your tongue. ADA (American Dental Association) states that tongue piercing can cause serious complications, like swelling, gum bleeding, discoloration inside your mouth, and even breathing problems.

Create a regular cleaning routine and keep your mouth as clean as possible to prevent health issues. If you notice prolonged bleeding, white or yellow deposits around the ring, or bad breath, you should immediately visit your dentist. In most cases, you will need antibiotic therapy to stop the infection.

Prolonged bad hygiene and food deposits around the balls can result in high fever, yellow and green pus on the tongue, or pain. Besides regular cleaning, there are several things you can do to prevent this from happening.

  • Food – Avoid the hot and spicy food immediately after you get the tongue pierced. Alcohol drinks, coffee, and smoking are not recommended in the first few weeks. You should even restrain yourself from French kissing and oral sex until the piercing completely heals.
  • Touching – Playing with the ring and catching it with your teeth is interesting, but it can also result in cracked teeth and tongue irritation. Plus, using the old toothbrush can help bacteria spreading.

It is impossible to keep your mouth sterile, but you need to make an effort to prevent any complications by rinsing, brushing, and disinfection. Still, don’t overuse the mouthwash to avoid discoloration or possible poisoning.

Tips and Suggestions

The tongue piercing comes with great responsibility. Once you get your tongue pierced, you need to take proper care of your new jewelry all the time. Think on time to rinse it whenever you eat something, have a snack, or drink your booze.

Luckily, all you need is some discipline and devotion to preventing complications. In that regard, some tips may help you enjoy your piercing without the undesired consequences:

  • Check the balls – Examine daily whether the balls are tight as they should be. It the balls loosen, screw them firmly so no food can get inside.
  • Wear accessories – Carry travel-size mouthwash or salt solution with you when leaving home. If you have a meal outside, you don’t have to wait to come home to clean the piercing.
  • Use your cutlery – Avoid contact with other person bodily fluids to prevent infection during the healing process. That includes shared cups, plates, and glasses.
  • Safe exercise – If you are an active person and play sports, use the mouth guard or take the ring off when you train. That way, you will avoid swallowing the ring or biting your tongue while playing.
  • Spare balls – After switching to new jewelry, keep original balls as a reserve. You will need them as a hole supporter while cleaning your piercing.
  • Going to the doctor – Always have a non-metal alternative ring and wear it when visiting a dentist or having an X-ray examination.
  • Stretching – You can minimize the chances of closing the hole after short removing the piercing by wearing a larger gauge to stretch the hole. Consult your piercer to select the right ball size for this purpose.
  • Permanent piercing removal – If you decide to remove your tongue balls permanently, you should pay extra attention to hygiene around the hole while it heals. It may take months before it closes, and your primary goal is to prevent infection.


The tongue piercing requires discipline, regular care, and cleaning. Rinse your mouth several times a day with salt solution or alcohol-free mouthwash.

Remove the ring occasionally and soak it in alcohol to prevent infections. Always have an extra ring if you lose or swallow the primary one since the tongue heals fast.

How to Clean a Tongue Ring 3

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