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How to avoid bad breath with a tongue piercing

Tongue piercings are popular among those looking for something more exciting than regular ear piercings. If you like this look, you should get your tongue pierced by a qualified body piercer, with a high-quality stainless steel bar. After this, oral hygiene and the prevention of infection are the most important things for a healthy piercing. Maintaining a high level of oral hygiene can also help prevent bad breath, which is often caused by bits of food caught in the mouth and a build up of bacteria. Some people with tongue bars avoid the dentist in case they're asked to remove their piercing, but it's important to carry on looking after your teeth. This prevents tooth decay and gum disease, also factors in bad breath.

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Oral hygiene

  1. Be acutely aware of oral hygiene from the time you get your tongue pierced. According to the NHS, tongue piercings have a slightly elevated risk of infection due to the high levels of bacteria present in the mouth. As well as the risk of blood poisoning, an infected tongue piercing will most certainly cause bad breath, and could be painful.

  2. Brush teeth carefully when you have a fresh piercing, being sure to remove any traces of food without knocking the bar. Do not brush your tongue until your piercing has healed properly.

  3. Rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash every time you eat or drink anything other than water during the first few weeks after having your tongue pierced. The full healing time can take around two months. After this, it's still important to clean your teeth after meals and use a mouthwash morning and evening.

Visiting the dentist

  1. Go for regular dental check-ups. Missing these as a result of having a tongue piercing could be bad for your teeth and gums. Undiagnosed dental problems can lead to bad breath.

  2. Talk to your dentist about your tongue piercing. Many people fear that removal of a healed tongue piercing for a long dentist appointment may result in it closing. While this is unlikely, you may be able to wear an acrylic tongue piercing retainer for your appointment. These are usually even suitable for x-rays and mean you should never have to miss an appointment or treatment.

  3. Never ignore toothache or bleeding gums. These signify tooth problems and can lead to bad breath, as well as maybe causing your piercing to get infected.

  4. Tip

    Once your piercing is fully healed, you can remove the bar once a week and sterilise it with surgical spirit. Then clean your teeth and use a tongue scraper and mouthwash before replacing the bar.

    Wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap before removing or touching your piercing. This is especially important when tightening the balls on a fresh piercing.

    Make sure you drink plenty of water when you first have a tongue piercing, especially if you have a couple of weeks of eating soups and soft foods. You might find that a change in diet alters how your breath smells, but keeping hydrated helps prevent this.


    If you develop bad breath and suspect your piercing is infected, seek medical attention immediately and talk to your piercer if possible.

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Things You'll Need

  • Anti bacterial hand wash
  • Alcohol-free mouth wash
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Acrylic tongue piercing retainer (optional)

About the Author

Shefali Choudhury is a qualified make-up artist and nail technician, with more than 12 years experience of professional makeup in beauty, film and theater. She graduated in fine art from Central Saint Martins and has been writing professionally since 2007.

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