The Smiley Piercing: Pros + Cons Guide

smiley piercing collection via pinterest
images credit: Pinterest

Unique piercing time! The piercing I am about to showcase is one that not everyone can get, it’s not seen right away and it’s name is kind of cute.

Introducing... The Smiley Piercing!

AKA: The lip frenulum piercing.

It’s also known as the lip frenulum piercing. It's a mouth piercing that is becoming more and more popular.

It’s named “smiley” because you usually won’t see it unless you smile. It's popular because it's usually hidden inside your mouth and is unique in that it highlights your smile.

Not everyone can get it and it can be a problematic piercing if not cared for properly. This guide will tell you all about it and hopefully answer any questions you have about it. Your professional piercer can help guide you with any other questions you have, too.

smiley piercing with captured bead hoop jewelry
image via

What + where is your frenulum?

Humans actually have 3 oral frenulums. For the smiley piercing - it’s the thin flap of tissue that connects your upper lip to your upper gums inside your mouth.

You can feel this flap by sticking your tongue up in front of your 2 front teeth and keep going up and you will feel the flap. That’s your frenulum.

Your other 2 frenulums are: one is connected between your lower lip and your lower gums (if pierced it's a frowny piercing). And the other one is under your tongue (if pierced it's called a tongue web piercing or lingual frenulum piercing).

smiley piercing pros vs cons
image credit pinterest

Smiley Piercing Pros vs Cons

Here is a quick snapshot of the pros and cons of getting a smiley piercing. But this article goes into more details about each if you read on!


  1. They're cute, they're stylish and they will make your smile shine brighter than it already does!
  2. They are hidden, unless you smile.
  3. They can be discreet. If you want a piercing but don't want it visible all the time, you can either not smile big or just put in piercing jewelry that is less visible.
  4. It's not overly painful


  1. The smiley piercing can be damaging to your teeth.
  2. It can also damage your gums.
  3. Not everyones upper frenulum can take a smiley piercing.
  4. Your body might reject the piercing, or it might migrate.
  5. Mouth piercings can get infected easily.
  6. It is at high risk for getting snagged by a toothbrush or when eating.
  7. There is a long healing process if you don't take care following the aftercare recommendations.
top and bottom frenulum piercings
image credit pinterest - Lip Frenulum piercing + lingual frenulum piercing

Top FAQ's About Smiley Piercings

Can anyone get a smiley piercing?

The smiley piercing is not possible for everyone to get. You might notice your frenulum seems kind of small or thin - in this case it’s not recommended you get a smiley piercing because it just might not work, or it might be a risky piercing for you because it can be torn out or your body might reject it.

Can you get a smiley piercing with braces? No. It's definitely not recommended. Or anyone who wears a retainer should skip the smiling piercing. It could get snagged and possibly pulled out if you have braces or a retainer.

If you suffer from any gum issues like gum disease/periodontitis, you really shouldn't get a smiley piercing. It might exasperate your issues and you don't want that!

Are smiley piercings painful?

All piercings will generally cause some kind of pain.

How much do smiley piercings hurt? Because the tissue is so thin, you will likely feel a sharp pinch when pierced. Everyone is different though and some have a higher pain tolerance than others.

4/10 is the reported common pain level.

smiley piercing with captured bead jewelry
image credit pinterest

Please explain the healing process.

Piercings in the mouth heal quickly usually - this piercing can take 4-12 weeks to heal.

Make sure to keep your mouth clean and avoid any tugging or snags on your piercing jewelry when brushing your teeth, flossing your teeth or eating. Any tugging can cause damage to your tissue and possibly extend the healing time.

Make sure you follow the aftercare recommendations for the best healing results. (See aftercare below).

You will most likely experience some swelling, tenderness and bleeding right after the piercing and for a week or 2 possibly. Keep it clean, keep doing the aftercare recommendations and you will be healed in no time.

smiley piercing with heart jewelry
image credit: @pyramidtattoopgh

What are the risks of the smiley piercing?

As with all piercings, there might be risks. With the smiling piercing, the jewelry is so close to sensitive areas, the risks are a little higher. Here are some risks that come with getting a smiley piercing.

1) You might damage your teeth and gums! Take note that the jewelry used for a smiley piercing can definitely damage your tooth enamel. This can lead to tooth decay. You might notice erosion of your teeth and even gum recession. Gum recession can cause pretty bad damage and would require surgery to graft gum onto the tooth in order to save your tooth. Damage to your teeth is especially common with captive bead ring jewelry, but any jewelry this close to your gums and teeth will cause some kind of irritation, bleeding, swelling, scarring and just damage in general.

2) Body rejection or migration. This type of piercing is likely to get rejected by your body or you might experience jewelry migration because of how thin the frenulum is. It's good just to be aware of this risk and make sure to ask your professional piercer if it's a good piercing for your frenulum and always follow the proper aftercare recommendations.

3) Possible infected smiley piercing. With all piercings, you might get a piercing infection - especially when using jewelry that is not hypoallergenic. Always use jewelry made of hypoallergenic material to avoid an allergic reaction which can lead to an infected smiley piercing. Good materials include surgical titanium, niobium, gold and surgical stainless steel (sometimes this last choice can still cause irritation). And always follow the recommended aftercare and daily cleanings. If you do get an infected smiley piercing, seek the advice of your piercer as to how to treat it.

If you're already at risk for cardiac conditions, be extra cautious when choosing an oral piercing. Adding an open hole (a piercing) to your body only allows access of bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Or other illnesses that could be passed to you and spread through your blood. This is rare and depends on each person, but it's still something to be cautious about.

i want a smiley piercing, pros vs cons guide
image credit pinterest

What to expect when getting pierced

This piercing is quite simple and will only take a minute or so to complete.

You professional piercer will have everything set up in place for the process. Make sure they are wearing gloves to protect you both.

You'll be asked to use a mouth rinse to clean the area.

Next, you will hold your upper lip up and away from your teeth. They will then clamp your frenulum in place in order to pierce it and then they will then stick the needle through while still holding onto your frenulum with the clamp.

Once the needle is through your frenulum they'll remove the clamp and will glide the jewelry you chose through the hole as the needle comes out and then attach the ball to the hoop and you will be done.

Look in the mirror and admire your new accessory!

ultimate piercing guide for Smiley Piercing
image credit pinterest

What are the smiley piercing aftercare recommendations?

Keeping the mouth clean is your number one priority with the smiley piercing.

Most importantly, you’ll want to rinse your mouth 2-3 times a day with a sea salt rinse or saline solution. Make sure to get the sea salt rinse/saline solution up in your frenulum area attempting to “soak” the area with the solution. You can purchase saline solution products that are created specifically for oral piercing aftercare. Do not use any rinses with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

Regular oral hygiene is also important through the piercing healing time. Brushing your teeth and flossing your teeth is important, but be careful not to tug or snag the piercing while doing so.

When eating: Stick to soft foods at first, because eating with this new piercing is going to be a learning process, especially with this new jewelry in your mouth near your teeth. Also, skip spicy or acidic foods if you can. Don't drink alcohol or use a rinse or toothpaste that has alcohol in it. Don't smoke. Always rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking anything.

Don’t touch the jewelry with your hands. Moving the jewelry too much could cause piercing rejection and/or an infection because our hands carry bacteria.

Avoid playing with the jewelry with your tongue - during the healing time especially. You will be tempted, but get in the habit of avoiding this temptation.

Remove jewelry if playing contact sports. You don't want to be hit in the mouth accidentally which could cause some pretty bad damage to your gums or teeth, or even knock a tooth out! So, remove the jewelry, if possible, before any playing around.

Skip French kissing during the healing process. Adding someone else’s saliva into your mouth could be harmful to your piercing. Gentle closed mouth peck kisses are ok, but skip the tongue kissing until you’re fully healed.

Do not put anything in your mouth, except food, water and the salt water/saline rinse.

Common types of smiley piercing jewelry.

1) Captive bead ring: a ring shape that closes with one bead. This will probably be the first smiley piercing jewelry used when getting pierced.

2) Circular barbell: A horseshoe shape or partial circle shape with a bead on each end.

3) Seamless ring: a ring that connects without a ball connecting the ends.

4) Smiley piercing fangs: This is a half hoop with a fang attachment on either end, to make it look like you have vampire fangs when you smile. Maybe you like this for everyday wear, but it's especially cool for Halloween!

smiley piercing fangs make you like like you have vampire fangs
Image via pinterest


Overall, it's up to you if a smiley piercing is right for you. There are pros and there are cons, but this is the case for anything we do in life right!? As with all piercings - they aren't permanent. They can be removed. The hole will close and you can move on with your life if needed. (NOTE: Gauges are the only piercing that might not close up like you'd like it to!) So, go along and think about this and have fun with your new smiley piercing if you decide it's a good fit for you! It could be the new beautiful accessory to add to your style.