A few weeks ago I published a blog post expanding on 7 common general aftercare myths and falsehoods for body piercings. Today, I’d like to continue that theme! While that post covers a great range of general topics, some piercings have more specific needs during healing, and that can lead to more specific misinformation getting around. In particular, oral piercings are a staple in many studios, and we often hear some pretty crazy healing suggestions thanks to the internet. So here are 7 care myths debunked for oral piercings!
You can’t have any dairy/spicy food/acidic food while they heal!
I hear this one a lot, and it’s totally false. You can eat whatever you’d like while your oral piercing heals. If you notice a particular food seems irritating, maybe take a break for a week and try it again. That said everyones mouth is different and I see plenty of clients who eat everything under the sun with no issues! It’s more about listening to your body- your piercing will let you know if it doesn’t agree with your dinner choices. Theres not really an inherent risk with any of these foods besides some mild discomfort, and again that varies person to person. Drink your orange juice, eat your ice cream, and enjoy your spicy Thai food!
You should get pierced with plastic because it’s safer for your teeth.
Oh boy, if every piercer had a dollar for each time we heard this. To start, there is currently no body safe plastic jewelry being made in standard piercing sizes. The plastic on the market is very low quality, usually manufactured overseas with untested polymers. Beyond that plastic breaks down over time in the mouth, and can become brittle, yellow/discolored, and even snap. A well fitted piece of implant grade titanium and a little self control not to play with or chew on the jewelry is all you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy while you wear these piercings.
You never need to change the jewelry
This probably comes from piecing with piercing guns, where what you were pierced with is what you got. Fortunately these days we know better, particularly understanding that piercings will swell initially, and need room to accommodate that swelling. Few piercings swell more than oral piercings, so these need extra room to accommodate for swelling and healing. That said, leaving these long can risk serious damage to your teeth and gums. Of all piercings it is likely the most essential to swap an oral piercing for shorter jewelry once the initial swelling is gone. The more extra metal in your mouth, the much greater the chances you cause some damage.
Put ice directly on the piercing to help with swelling
I’m guessing whoever started this myth doesn’t live in a cold climate. Icing your piercing directly will only end up increasing swelling and causing some major discomfort! You can drink cold water or eat some cold water ice to help with swelling, or store your saline in the fridge so you can do a nice cool compress to help with swelling. But placing ice directly on your new or healing piercing is never a good idea, and often times will only end up making swelling worse. Remember, less is more with aftercare, and piercing fair best with gentle treatment.
I heard there’s a nerve in your tongue/lip and if you pierce it your face will go numb/be paralyzed/ etc.
This is a total urban legend! While all piercings have risks involved, none include becoming paralyzed or loosing all feeling from a nerve. Things you should be concerned about are teeth and gum damage, including gum erosion and chipped teeth. Bad breath, from plaque buildup and not keeping the jewelry properly cleaned. Fortunately, with a good piercer and some effort on your part, oral piercings can be fairly low risk.
I need to use full strength mouthwash after I do anything (eat/drink/smoke) while it’s healing
Woah! This is super harsh aftercare, that often comes from the same misinterpretation as antibacterial soap. Less is often more, particularly in wound care. Rinsing with such strong products that often can upset the natural balance of flora in your mouth, causing things like thrush. Fortunately, your body is an amazing bacteria fighter all on its own. You don’t need to do too much to assist it. Rinsing with water to remove any large debris and following a normal oral hygiene schedule (brushing and rinsing 3 times a day) should be all you need. If you really feel like you need a little extra, watering down an alcohol free non whitening mouthwash is all you’d want.
It’s no big deal if I smoke while it’s healing
Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, smoking is detrimental to any wound healing, but particularly wounds in your mouth. It can make healing take longer, and leave a yellowish residue around the wound that can cause irritation and issues. The physical act of sucking and inhaling can also often cause more swelling, leading to further irritation. We know this can be a tough one for many clients, but it’s best not to smoke while your oral piercing heals.
If you have any questions about healing your piercing, or are unsure if you are taking proper care, safepiercing.org has some wonderful industry standard guidelines listed on their website. Generally you should follow what your piercer has told you. If you are unsure that you are getting good advice from your piercer, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. There is a forum on Facebook called Ask A Professional Piercer where many respected, vetted industry professionals assist clients with getting accurate advice and help with their piercings.