Piercings are a big part of our personality; they are expressive and let a person take charge of their body. Choice of the piercing depicts who you are as a person. If you consider getting a mouth piercing, particularly smiley piercing, go through this blog to know everything about it.

What is A Smiley Piercing?

Smiley piercing is also known as frenulum piercing. The jewelry, be it a ring or stud, pierces through the flap between the upper lip and upper gum named frenulum. It is a thin piece of connector you can feel with your tongue.

The piece of jewelry is not visible properly until you smile, so that is why it’s called smiley piercing. It is a good choice for people who are trying to keep their piercing a little mellow.

Can Everyone Get a Gum Piercing?

It is a decision that your piercer and practitioner will take. There are certain limitations when it comes to mouth piercings. 

It does not matter if the smiley piercing you aim for is small or big; the parameters are same for all kinds. You might face rejection for your request for smiley piercing based on the following:

  • Having braces on for teeth straightening.
  • Frenulum size – often, it is difficult to place jewelry in the small-sized frenulum.
  • Having gum disease
  • Dental sealants or other corrective and preventive procedures.
  • Periodontitis
  • Gum receding from line
  • Enamel wear and tear

Type of Jewelry Options for In-Mouth Piercing 

There are more than one options to choose from, which are:

  1. Captive Bead Ring

Captive bead rings are usually used for a new smiley piercing. They are round or circular-shaped piece that closes with a small bead. The bead is larger than the snap-fit opening and has pits or grooves corresponding to the ring endpoints.

  1. Circular Barbell

It is one of the most sought-after pieces of piercing jewelry. It is also called a horseshoe barbell because of its shape – U shaped barbell with a bead at both ends. The circular barbell is a good choice for newbies since beads at both ends help keep the ring in place. 

  1. Seamless Ring

A seamless ring is a piece very popular amongst the piercing jewelries with an opening where the two ends meet. It is so named because the piercing has a seamless look, is continuous, and the ring easily connects without the help of a bead.

Materials to Choose From

Your piercer will provide you multiple options for smiley piercing rings to choose from, which include:

  1. Surgical Titanium – it is suitable for people who have sensitive skin to avoid any unwanted hypersensitivity reactions.
  2. Surgical Stainless Steel – a good option since it is hypoallergenic and workable for most people. However, it may irritate a little upon insertion.
  3. Niobium – non-corrosive hypoallergenic material suitable for almost all the candidates up for smiley piercing.
  4. Gold – pure gold, specifically 14-karat gold (yellow or white), is good and should be opted for during healing after a smiley piercing. Purity is of utmost importance because gold higher than 18-karats is not durable and may lead to infection at the site of the smiley piercing.

How Much Does A Smiley Piercing Cost?

Usually, piercers charge 30 to 90 USD for smiley piercings; this may or may not include the price of the jewelry. Ensure that the piercing place you are going to is hygienic and sterilized materials are used since there is a greater chance of bacterial manifestation in the mouth.

Frenulum Piercing Process

Once you are through with the initial screening, the process will start. The procedure is very precise and lasts for about a few minutes only. Here’s an explanation of it: 

  1. You will receive an antibacterial solution for rinsing your mouth. Thoroughly swish swirl, and spit.
  2. Next, after your mouth is clean, your piercer will fixate the upper lip in a way to expose frenulum tissue.
  3. The piercing is done using a sterilized needle.
  4. Finally, the selected jewelry is placed inside the hole and screwed with beads if required to hold the ring in place.

Does Getting A Smiley Piercing Hurt?

Pain comes along with all kinds of piercings. The frenulum is a sensitive area and is bound to feel needle pain. However, the more muscular the area, the less pain will be. Your frenulum tissue inside the lip is thin and delicate but strong enough to support the piercing ring.

Additionally, the pain threshold is also a factor. If your tolerance level is low, you will most likely feel pain during mouth piercings. However, it only lasts for a few seconds; take a deep breath, and it will be over in no time.

Risk Factors of Getting Gum Piercings

Smiley piercings are done on a very sensitive area, and it requires adequate care; otherwise, it can lead to infection and cause adverse effects. Some of the complications that can arise are: 

  • Enamel Damage – attachments like large beads on the ring can damage the enamel. Constant friction has an impact on the teeth, causing harm. 
  • Gum Damage – incorrectly placed piercing can potentially cause gum recession with time. If your smiley piercing ring fits too high on the gum line, its constant contact will cause damage. 
  • Infection – your mouth naturally has a lot of bacteria in it because of periodic eating or drinking. There is a possibility of infection at the piercing site inside the mouth if bacteria accumulate due to improper cleaning. 
  • Rejection – your body has its defense mechanism to fight against intruders. It may reject the jewelry piece and grow the tissue at the piercing site, again pushing the ring out.

How Long Is The Healing Time?

Usually, oral piercings take about 4 to 12 weeks for complete healing. However, this timeline depends on aftercare as well. If the individual does not take care of the site of action after the smiley piercing process, healing time can increase.

You may experience mild to moderate pain and swelling in your smiley piercing site in the first few weeks. The symptoms ease gradually in the following weeks as healing continues, and the pain and swelling subside on their own. However, visit your practitioner immediately if the piercing site starts bleeding or leaks pus of either green or yellow color.

How to Clean a Smiley Piercing?

Proper aftercare is essential for the smiley piercing to stay on without complications. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Take sea salt or make a saline solution and cleanse your mouth at least twice a day – swish swirl and spit.
  • Do not forget to rinse your mouth with fresh water after meals.
  • Follow apt brush and floss regime for oral care.
  • Try using mild-flavored toothpaste instead of regular mint ones.
  • Switch to alcohol-free mouthwash
  • It is not wise to touch your piercings the first few days after getting them, so do not play with them.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Do not eat food high in spice and acid levels.
  • Avoid hot food or beverage.
  • Steer clear of crunchy food that can irritate the piercing site.
  • Indulge in activities that may move the ring. 

Monitoring Your Piercing

While it is normal to have pain or swelling, some other signs of infection to look out for are:

  • Redness surpassing the piercing site
  • Extreme consistent pain
  • Noticeable swelling
  • Yellow or green pus discharge
  • Bad odor

In case of rejection, your body will show:

  • Ring or any other jewelry displaced from its original site.
  • Drooping or hanging of the jewelry from the frenulum tissue.
  • Ring or other piece popping out.

For How Long Will A Healed Piercing Last?

Proper care helps to make it last for a longer time, but there is no guarantee of it not closing earlier. Also, due to the frenulum being delicate, smiley piercing does not last long compared to other body parts. 

Here’s How You Can Change The Jewelry

It is best not to touch or try changing the jewelry until the site has fully recovered and properly healed, which takes about three months. Get your piercer and practitioner on board and follow the steps detailed below for changing your jewelry.

  1. Rinse your mouth using sea salt or saltwater solution, swish for approximately 30 seconds, and spit.
  2. Make sure to clean your hands with a bar of antibacterial soap before touching the site.
  3. Carefully, with full attention, unscrew your jewelry.
  4. Take out your existing piece and gently tread the new one in its place, fit the beads if there are any.
  5. Rinse the mouth once more with sea salt or saline solution.

If you change your mind due to any reason mid-way through the healing process about your piercing, it is okay to get rid of it. However, you must make sure that it is safe to do so or not. If you remove it mid-healing, keep the area clean and tidy during all times. It is easier and safer to wait until the piercing site heals and then remove the jewelry.


If you have decided on getting a smiley piercing, it is best to get a full oral cavity checkup from one of the best dentists in Houston at Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics to avoid unforeseen complications afterward.