If you have a new tongue piercing, you’re probably eager to swap out the starter jewelry for a more stylish tongue ring. But it’s crucial to wait until the piercing is fully healed before changing the jewelry to prevent complications.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Wait at least 6 weeks after getting your tongue pierced before changing the initial barbell ring.

Stages of Tongue Piercing Healing

Initial Piercing Phase

The initial piercing phase is the first stage of tongue piercing healing. This phase generally lasts for about 2-4 weeks. During this time, it is important to follow strict aftercare guidelines to ensure proper healing.

It is recommended to avoid smoking, alcohol, spicy foods, and any activities that may irritate the piercing. It is also important to clean the piercing with a saline solution or an antibacterial mouthwash multiple times a day to prevent infection.

The tongue may be swollen and tender during this phase, but it is a normal part of the healing process.

First 2 Weeks of Healing

The first two weeks of healing are a crucial period for tongue piercing. It is important to continue following the aftercare guidelines and maintaining good oral hygiene. This includes avoiding hard foods, using a soft toothbrush, and rinsing the mouth with a saline solution after meals.

During this time, the swelling should start to subside, and the piercing should become less painful. It is important not to change the jewelry during this phase, as it can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of infection.

Weeks 3-6 of Healing

In the weeks 3-6 of healing, the tongue piercing should start to feel more comfortable and less sensitive. The swelling should continue to decrease, and the piercing should begin to look and feel more settled.

However, it is still important to maintain proper aftercare and avoid activities that can irritate the piercing. It is recommended to continue cleaning the piercing with a saline solution or antibacterial mouthwash and avoiding alcohol and smoking.

After 6 Weeks of Healing

After 6 weeks of healing, the tongue piercing should be fully healed. At this point, the swelling should be completely gone, and the piercing should feel comfortable in the mouth. It is now safe to change the jewelry if desired.

However, it is important to consult with a professional piercer before making any changes to ensure that the piercing is fully healed and ready for new jewelry.

Remember, everyone’s healing process may vary, and it is important to listen to your body and consult with a professional piercer if you have any concerns or questions during the healing process.

Signs Your Tongue Piercing is Fully Healed

Getting a tongue piercing can be an exciting and bold form of self-expression. However, it’s important to give your piercing enough time to heal properly before making any changes or adjustments. So, how do you know when it’s safe to change your tongue ring?

Here are some signs to look out for to determine if your tongue piercing is fully healed.

No More Swelling

One of the first signs that your tongue piercing is healing is a significant decrease in swelling. When you initially get your piercing, it’s common for your tongue to swell for a few days. However, as the healing process progresses, the swelling should gradually subside.

If you notice that the swelling has completely gone down and your tongue looks and feels normal, it’s a good indication that your piercing is healing properly.

No Pain or Discomfort

Another sign that your tongue piercing is fully healed is the absence of pain or discomfort. Initially, you may experience some tenderness and soreness around the piercing site, but as time goes on, these sensations should diminish.

If you no longer experience any pain or discomfort when eating, speaking, or moving your tongue, it’s a positive sign that your piercing has healed.

No Drainage or Crusties

During the healing process, it’s common for a tongue piercing to produce some discharge, often referred to as “crusties.” This discharge is a combination of lymph fluid, dead skin cells, and plasma, and it helps to keep the piercing clean.

However, once your piercing is fully healed, you should no longer notice any drainage or crusties around the piercing site. If you haven’t seen any discharge for a while, it’s a good indication that your tongue piercing has healed.

Remember, everyone’s healing process is different, and it’s important to be patient and allow your tongue piercing enough time to heal properly. If you’re unsure whether your piercing is fully healed, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional piercer or a healthcare professional.

They can provide you with the guidance and advice you need to ensure the safety and health of your piercing.

Risks of Changing Jewelry Too Early

Infection or Abscess

One of the major risks of changing tongue ring too early is the potential for infection or abscess. The tongue is a sensitive area that is prone to bacteria buildup, and changing the jewelry before the piercing has fully healed can introduce new bacteria and irritate the wound.

This can lead to infections, which can be painful and may require medical intervention. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of infection include redness, swelling, pus, and increased pain. It is important to wait until the piercing has fully healed before changing the jewelry to minimize the risk of infection.

Damage to Teeth and Gums

Another risk of changing tongue ring too early is the potential for damage to the teeth and gums. The tongue jewelry can come into contact with the teeth and gums during the healing process, and if the jewelry is changed too early, it can cause irritation, abrasion, or even tooth or gum damage.

The American Dental Association advises waiting until the piercing has fully healed before changing the jewelry to avoid any potential damage.

Prolonged Healing Time

Changing the tongue ring too early can also result in prolonged healing time. The tongue is a muscle that moves constantly, and any disruption to the healing process can delay the recovery. According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, changing the jewelry too early can lead to complications such as prolonged swelling, increased pain, and delayed healing.

To ensure a smooth healing process, it is recommended to wait until the piercing has fully healed before changing the jewelry.

Scar Tissue Formation

Finally, changing the tongue ring too early can result in scar tissue formation. The body naturally forms scar tissue as part of the healing process, and if the jewelry is changed too early, it can disrupt the healing and lead to more prominent scarring.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, scar tissue can be more visible and raised if the healing process is interrupted. Waiting until the piercing has completely healed can help minimize the risk of excessive scarring.

How to Change Tongue Rings Safely

Wait at Least 6 Weeks

Changing your tongue ring too soon can lead to complications and infections. It is essential to allow your piercing to heal properly before attempting to change the jewelry. According to professional piercers, it is recommended to wait at least six weeks before changing your tongue ring.

This waiting period allows the tongue to heal and reduces the risk of damage or infection.

Sterilize the New Jewelry

Before inserting a new tongue ring, it is crucial to sterilize it properly. This step helps eliminate any bacteria or germs that may be present on the jewelry. To sterilize the new tongue ring, you can use an antiseptic solution specifically designed for piercings or boil it in water for a few minutes.

Remember to let the jewelry cool down before inserting it into your piercing to avoid any burns or discomfort.

Use Proper Length and Gauge

Choosing the right length and gauge for your tongue ring is essential for a comfortable and safe fit. Tongue rings come in various sizes, so it’s crucial to select one that matches your piercing’s specifications.

Using a shorter or longer tongue ring than what is recommended can lead to discomfort, irritation, and even damage to your piercing. If you are unsure about the appropriate size, consult with a professional piercer who can help you find the right fit.

Have a Piercer Do It

If you are unsure or uncomfortable changing your tongue ring by yourself, it is always best to seek the assistance of a professional piercer. They have the knowledge and experience to change your tongue ring safely and efficiently.

Additionally, a piercer can provide guidance on proper aftercare and answer any questions you may have about your piercing. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional if you need help or have concerns about changing your tongue ring on your own.

Remember, proper care and caution are essential when changing your tongue ring. By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and hassle-free experience while maintaining the health of your piercing.

Aftercare for New Tongue Jewelry

Rinse After Eating or Drinking

Proper aftercare is essential to ensure a healthy healing process for your new tongue jewelry. One important step is to rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash or saline solution after eating or drinking anything other than water.

This helps to remove any food particles or bacteria that may have accumulated around the piercing. It’s best to avoid using mouthwashes containing alcohol as they can irritate the piercing and delay the healing process.

Use Antibacterial Mouthwash Daily

Another crucial step in aftercare is to use an antibacterial mouthwash daily. This helps to keep the piercing clean and free from infection. Look for a mouthwash specifically designed for oral piercings, as they are formulated to promote healing and prevent bacteria buildup.

Gently swish the mouthwash around your mouth for about 30 seconds, making sure to reach the area around the piercing. Remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results.

Downsize Barbell after 2 Weeks

After approximately two weeks of getting your tongue pierced, it’s recommended to downsize the initial barbell. The initial jewelry is longer to accommodate swelling, but once the swelling has subsided, a shorter barbell is necessary to prevent damage to your teeth and gums.

It’s important to consult with your piercer before making any changes to your jewelry, as they will be able to determine the appropriate time and size for downsizing.

Remember, everyone’s healing process is different, so it’s important to listen to your body and follow the advice of your piercer. If you experience any unusual pain, swelling, or discharge, it’s best to seek medical attention.

Taking proper care of your new tongue jewelry will help ensure a smooth healing process and a beautiful piercing that you can enjoy for years to come!


While it’s exciting to change up your new tongue piercing, waiting at least 6 weeks allows proper healing to occur. Make sure signs of healing are present before swapping jewelry. When changing tongue rings:

– Have your piercer do it to minimize risks

– Use implant-grade stainless steel, titanium or niobium

– Stick to a smaller gauge and shorter barbell at first

– Keep up daily oral hygiene and rinsing to prevent infection

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