Smiley Piercing: Commonly Asked Questions Before Getting One

A smiley piercing is very often called a lip frenulum piercing. It is a piercing located on the  flap of the tissue which connects the inside of your upper lip with your upper gum. To get a feel of where it is, simply close your lips and stick your tongue straight upward in front of your teeth. Then you’ll feel a thin line of something between your gums and your lips. Of course you can look at an image to know where your frenulum is, but this was more fun wasn’t it? 

Honestly, this is a piercing that I can personally never ever get because my frenulum was surgically cut off on account of a dental procedure. I used to have a gap between my two front teeth, and the dentist said that the frenulum needed to go in order to preserve the closure of the gap after braces. 

Suffice to say that many people can’t get this piercing. My case is really rare, but in fact as the frenulum is so thin, many people can’t get this piercing. It has a greater risk of being torn out or rejected, since the skin is so thin. 

Is a smiley piercing bad for your teeth?

One huge potential problem with piercing your frenulum is that the piercing itself can do some damage to your teeth and gums. Even a small metal ring can wear away at the enamel over time as it rubs against your front teeth, and it may irritate the gum and inner lip tissue.

How long do smiley piercings last?

The truth is, these piercings don’t last for very long. This is not a permanent piercing. The frenulum is so small, and the area sees a lot of movement, so the piercing will eventually be rejected. It can last a few years, but many say that their piercing only lasted one. If you want something that’s fun and temporary, then this piercing is great, but if you want it to last a long time, then you should opt for another piercing choice.

How long does a smiley piercing take to heal? 

Smiley piercings heal within 4 to 12 weeks.

Can everyone get a smiley piercing?

There are a few things to take into consideration with this piercing, though. Not everyone can get it. If your frenulum is too small, it can’t be pierced. The frenulum is naturally thin, and many people can’t get this area pierced. If your frenulum isn’t the right size for piercing, your piercer can give you other options.

You should wait to get a smiley piercing if you currently have braces. It’s been done, but braces are just one more thing that your new jewelry can snag on, so it’s better to wait until the hazard has been removed. 

It can cause gum and/or tooth damage, which may or may not be reversible. 

If you suffer from receding gum lines, gum disease, enamel wear, or other oral issues, then you shouldn’t get this piercing. The jewelry will rub against your teeth and exacerbate these issues.

What does a smiley piercing mean?

The smiley piercing aptly named because it won’t be seen unless you smile. The subtle surprise makes this piercing a fun choice for those who want an oral piercing that’s more low key than other lip and mouth piercing variations.

How bad does a smiley piercing hurt?

It may not go through a lot of tissues, but smiley piercings can be kind of painful. To get a feel for it, grab your frenulum between your thumb and forefinger and pinch it. It’s a sensitive area. But it’s over somewhat quickly and it heals without too much complications.

How much will it cost?

Smiley piercings cost around $30 – $90. 

Do smiley piercings reject?

Yes, it can be prone to migration and rejection because there isn’t a lot of flesh holding it in place and natural movement of the lips can put stress on the piercing. It’s important that you keep a close eye on it for any signs of irritation, indentation, shifting of teeth, scratches in the enamel, etc.

Smiley piercings do come with a high risk of mitigation and rejection as the tissue is very thin and the area quite small. While all piercings do have a chance to migrate anytime you have very thin tissue this chance increases. With this particular piercing if you notice that your jewelry starts to move you really need to keep an eye on it. You do not want to increase your chances of gum recession or tooth enamel wear. Think of this more as a short term piercing.

Aftercare rules

The healing process for the smiley piercing isn’t too difficult. Your biggest challenges will be keeping your mouth clean and avoiding snags to the jewelry. Here are some tips to help you through the healing process.

Be careful when you eat. 

The location of the smiley piercing might pose a bit of a learning curve when it comes to eating. You don’t want to snag or irritate your piercing, but since initial jewelry will need to be large enough to accommodate swelling, avoiding snags could be difficult. In the first few days, stick to soft foods until you’re used to the new jewelry.

Try not to play with the jewelry.

You should never touch a healing piercing. Moving the jewelry too much could cause piercing rejection, and your hands harbor harmful bacteria. You also need to be careful not to play with your jewelry with your tongue. It will be tempting, since you won’t be used to the new piece, but you must make the conscious decision to leave your jewelry alone during healing.

No kissing. 

Your mouth harbors enough harmful bacteria without adding the saliva of your partner. Closed mouth smooches are fine (as long as they’re gentle), but you should refrain from kissing of the French variety until your piercer has confirmed that your frenulum has fully healed.

Rinse your mouth with saline solution or a sea salt rinse 2 – 3 times daily. 

The location of the smiley piercing will preclude you from conducting a saline soak like you would with other piercings. Instead, rinse your mouth with a saline or sea salt rinse, making sure to spend extra time soaking the frenulum area. There are rinses that you can purchase that are created specifically for oral piercing aftercare. You also need to make sure that you maintain proper oral hygiene throughout healing.

Things To Avoid

  • Going to a cheap piercer. You want to make sure that your piercer uses fully sterilized tools. This is always an important consideration, but in oral piercings, where bacteria is already a massive risk, you want to make sure that you’re setting your smiley piercing up right.
  • Playing with your jewelry with your tongue!
  • Getting into an argument or long conversations. The more you talk the more you may irritate your oral piercing. Take it easy for awhile and let yourself heal.
  • Spicy foods – Yep, spicy foods can irritate your wound. So time to lay off the jalapeno poppers & chili for awhile.
  • Kissing. Yep. You’re going to feel a little lonely for a few weeks. Kissing, as you well know, leads to saliva exchange. This can lead to an infection which is not good. Patience as they say, is a virtue.
  • Well if kissing is out you better believe oral sex is as well.. at least performing it.
  • Drinking alcohol must be avoided during your healing process for the same reason not to use alcoholic mouthwash. It will irritate and lengthen the healing process. Yep, life is going to be dull for a month or so for sure.
  • Don’t put anything in your mouth. Well accept food of course, no need to starve. No fingers (or anyone Else’s fingers) in your mouth, writing instruments or anything else for that matter.
  • This is probably the toughest one of all, Stop smoking! Not even e-cigarettes or ‘medical herbs’. If you do so you will not only increase the time it takes yourself to heal but you will increase your risk of infection.
  • Sharing. Yes, I know, your parents always said you should share with your friends. Well not anymore, for your entire healing process you will be gloriously selfish. No one gets a sip of your tasty beverage or a bite out of that sweet sweet cherry pie. It’s all yours!

Smiley Piercing Aftercare

The most important thing after you get any oral piercing is following the aftercare guide.  A professional body piercer will provide you with a printout that will have all the rules you should follow, and they will really spend some time with you and go over each one. The first couple weeks after you receive any piercing is when you will feel the most discomfort and have the highest chance of getting an infection so following these steps is very important to the success of your piercing.

As you could probably guess one of the first things that is important after an oral piercing is to keep your mouth clean. This is especially true after snacks and meals.  Most reputable piercing shops will offer a variety of aftercare products. Your technician will probably show some H2Ocean brand mouth rinse options. H2Ocean is a quality (non-alcoholic) sea salt mouthwash that is made from all natural ingredients. It’s recommended that you use an alcohol-free mouthwash as Alcohol will irritate piercings.  Which will not only cause you some discomfort but increase the healing time!.  H2Ocean Is quite popular in the piercing industry as it is a quality rinse and also comes in a spray option that is commonly used for cartilage piercings to help with irritation & Keloids. Depending on the size of the bottle prices can range between $12 to $20 for 8 to 16 ounces.

While you should keep up with your rinsing after meals and snacks, try not to go overboard.  Even using a Non-alcohol mouthwash can irritate if you are rinsing too much. On an average day you will rinse your mouth out about 4-6 times. If you notice some light discoloration on your web, your mouthwash may be a little strong.  If this happens to you can simply water down your solution with water to 50/50 mix.

If you’re looking to save some money one of the best options is to make your own sea salt mouthwash.  This is very popular for many of the oral piercings including the tongue piercing, tongue web piercing & the frowny piercing.   It’s quite easy to do and will only take you a few minutes. The ingredients are fairly cheap and what’s left you can use to salt your favorite meal after you’re healed up.  You only need some iodine free sea salt and some filtered (distilled) or bottled water. 

Sea Salt Mouth Rinse For Oral Piercings

  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine free) sea salt.
  • One cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water

It’s not rocket science here – Grab a clean glass and take 1/8 to 1/4 TSP of the salt and mix it with some warm water.  The warm water will help dissolve the salt faster and it’s more comfortable to rinse with. As the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing. Don’t use more than  ¼ teaspoon as this will actually hurt the healing process.

Remember that healing time is going to be around 4-12 weeks.  So be patient and diligent with your aftercare and cleaning routine. You also have one more option to One thing you can do to relieve the tedium is learn how to make your own salt water mouth rinse. It’s quite common to use sea salt for piercings, oral or otherwise and It’s a very simple and cheap recipe.

You know what to expect now, so go out there and find yourself a qualified piercer in a clean studio and get yourself a new smiley to enhance that beautiful smile.

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