Rinse Your Mouth
After you smoke, eat, or drink anything besides bottled water, rinse for 30 to 60 seconds with warm salt water. This will clean your mouth and piercing and soothe discomfort. It will also minimize the white discharge that normally forms around the jewelry and helps to eliminate the residue from smoking.
To mix a solution, use sea salt—not table salt—and use the same ratio in the chart on the basic piercing care page. Use bottled water or distilled water, not tap water. (If you have high blood pressure, you may need to limit your use of salt water and use plain water instead. Ask your doctor.)
If you choose to use mouthwash instead of salt water, stay away from alcohol-based products like Listerine® and similar store brands. These are far too harsh, and repeated use can actually slow down healing. Instead, use a mild, alcohol-free mouth rinse. Just remember: It’s the rinsing itself that is doing the work, not what you’re rinsing your mouth with, so the gentler solution is the best choice for speedy healing. Using a mouthwash too often—or one that is too harsh—can easily do more harm than good.
Clean the Outside of Your Piercing
In addition to rinsing your mouth, you will also need to clean the outside of your lip, cheek, or beauty mark piercing. For this, follow the suggestions in the basic piercing care page.
Oral piercings will usually swell for several days after they are first done, and some swelling may even be present for several weeks after that. Suck on ice for the first few days. Anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) may also help. Keep your head elevated the first week while sleeping (use extra pillows). Avoid anything that thins your blood, like alcohol or aspirin, or makes your heart rate go up, like caffeine or stimulants. Avoid drinking straws and water pipes.
Change Your Jewelry After Your Piercing is Healed
To allow for swelling, your initial ring or post will be larger or longer than the jewelry that will ultimately be worn. Once the swelling is gone and the piercing is healed, a shorter post or smaller diameter ring can be used. Do not leave the original jewelry size in longer than the healing period. Improperly sized jewelry is often the cause of irritated or damaged gums, chipped teeth, and other oral trauma. But be patient: Changing the jewelry too soon can result in more swelling and delayed healing. If you’re not sure it’s time, ask your piercer.
Keep Your Jewelry In
Oral piercings usually heal in about four to eight weeks. Jewelry can be changed after healing, but it should never be left out, even for short periods of time. Oral piercings close very quickly, making reinsertion of jewelry difficult—sometimes impossible.
Check Your Jewelry Occasionally
Make sure the ends on your jewelry are screwed on tightly. We make sure they are secure when you leave the shop; after that, it’s up to you. For oral piercings, which may be difficult to grasp, try wearing disposable gloves to tighten jewelry.
Eat What You Want
While healing an oral piercing you are not restricted in what you should eat, but by what you can eat. Spicy-hot and temperature-hot foods may be uncomfortable, but cold foods can be soothing. Acidic drinks (like citrus fruit juices) may irritate fresh piercings. Eat what is comfortable for you.
This is the best thing you can do for your piercing—and yourself. At the very least, cut down on smoking during healing.
Avoid Wet Kissing and Unprotected Oral Sex During Healing
Remember: this is an open wound. Any fluid exchange should be considered unsafe sex. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, your partner still has different natural bacteria than you do. You wouldn’t have them lick your cuts, would you?
Keep Your Fingers Out of Your Mouth
The ends of pens and pencils, too. And buy a new, clean toothbrush.
Avoid chewing gum during healing. Natural toothpastes or those meant for sensitive teeth may be less irritating during healing than the traditional kind. Avoid the urge to play with your piercing while it’s healing—there will be plenty of time for that afterward.