Smiley Piercing: An In-Depth Guide to Costs, Care, Risks, and More

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A smiley piercing, also known as a frenulum piercing, is a form of body modification that has gained considerable popularity in recent years. It’s a unique and somewhat hidden style of piercing that’s found inside the mouth, attaching to the thin strip of tissue that connects your upper lip to your gums. When you smile, this piercing gives off a sparkly surprise, hence the name – “smiley”.

The Origin of Smiley Piercing

Although smiley piercings have become popular in the past few years, they’re not a new trend. The practice of oral piercings traces back to ancient civilizations, with many tribal cultures using it as a rite of passage or to signify status. Smiley piercing, as we know it, emerged from the modern body modification movement, becoming a favorite among piercing enthusiasts for its unique placement and subtle charm.

Why Choose a Smiley Piercing?

A smiley piercing is a distinct choice that offers a level of subtlety not often seen in other forms of body modification. Hidden when your mouth is closed but revealed in a burst of sparkle when you smile, it adds a dash of individuality and a surprise element to your look. It’s a style statement for those who want to express themselves differently.

Types of Smiley Piercings

Types of Smiley Piercings

Just like other body modifications, there are a few variations when it comes to smiley piercings. Each type of smiley piercing offers a different aesthetic, and the choice depends largely on individual preference and comfort. Here are the most popular types of smiley piercings:

Standard Smiley Piercing

This is the most common type of smiley piercing. It involves the piercing of the frenulum, the small fold of tissue that connects the upper lip to the gums. The jewelry sits on the inner part of the upper lip and is only visible when you smile, hence the name “smiley piercing.” The standard smiley piercing typically involves a small hoop such as a captive bead ring or a circular barbell.

Frowny Piercing

This piercing is essentially the opposite of a smiley piercing. Rather than the upper frenulum, the frowny piercing is located on the lower frenulum that attaches the lower lip to the gums. While the concept is the same, a frowny piercing is less common as it’s not as noticeable as its counterpart.

Double Smiley Piercing

As the name suggests, the double smiley piercing involves two piercings on the frenulum. Two pieces of jewelry are used, often matching for a symmetrical look. This style of piercing can offer a more distinctive appearance but might also require more careful maintenance due to the additional piercing.

Side Smiley Piercing

In a side smiley piercing, the piercing is done to one side of the frenulum rather than in the middle. This slightly asymmetrical look can be appealing to those seeking a unique take on the traditional smiley piercing.

Choosing the type of smiley piercing often comes down to personal preference. Remember to consider factors such as comfort, maintenance, and your lifestyle when making your decision. No matter what type of smiley piercing you choose, it’s important to follow proper aftercare instructions and maintain good oral hygiene to ensure your piercing heals properly and remains in good condition.

Smiley Piercing Process: What to Expect

Getting a smiley piercing can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you don’t know what to expect. Here’s a general step-by-step overview of what the smiley piercing process typically involves:

Step 1: Consultation

Before the actual piercing, you’ll have a consultation with your piercer. This is your chance to ask any questions you have and for the piercer to explain the process, aftercare, and potential risks. They will also examine your frenulum to ensure it’s suitable for a smiley piercing.

Step 2: Choosing Your Jewelry

Next, you’ll select your initial jewelry. It’s crucial to choose a piece made from high-quality, hypoallergenic materials like surgical steel or titanium. The piercer will likely recommend a small captive bead ring or a circular barbell, which are the types of jewelry commonly used for a smiley piercing.

Step 3: Preparation

The piercer will clean the area to be pierced and may use a marking pen to mark the exact location of the piercing. They will then prepare the needle and jewelry.

Step 4: The Piercing

The piercer will ask you to tilt your head back and open your mouth wide. They’ll then clamp the frenulum and quickly push the needle through, following with the jewelry. The entire piercing process is usually quick and over within a few seconds.

Step 5: Aftercare Instructions

Once the jewelry is securely in place, the piercer will explain the aftercare process to you. They will provide guidelines for cleaning the piercing, potential signs of infection to watch out for, and when you can change the jewelry.

Step 6: Payment and Follow-Up

After the procedure, you will pay for your piercing and schedule any necessary follow-up appointments. It’s often a good idea to have a check-up with the piercer after a few weeks to ensure everything is healing properly.

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Remember, everyone’s experience with piercing can be slightly different. Some people might find the process more uncomfortable than others. The key is to choose an experienced, professional piercer who can guide you through the process and make it as comfortable as possible.

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Potential Risks and Complications

While smiley piercings can add a unique touch to your aesthetic, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and complications associated with this type of body modification. As with any piercing, proper care and hygiene are essential to mitigate these risks.


Infections can occur with any piercing, and a smiley piercing is no exception. This risk is particularly high during the initial healing process. Ensuring that you clean the piercing regularly, maintain good oral hygiene, and avoid playing with the jewelry can help prevent infection.

Gum Recession and Tooth Damage

If the jewelry constantly rubs against your gums or teeth, it can lead to gum recession or tooth damage over time. Choosing the right size and type of jewelry and ensuring it’s placed correctly can help minimize this risk.

Rejection and Migration

Your body may reject the smiley piercing, which is a process where your body treats the jewelry as a foreign object and tries to push it out. In some cases, the piercing may migrate, moving from its original placement to a different location.

Difficulties with Oral Hygiene

A smiley piercing can make maintaining oral hygiene a bit more challenging. Food particles can get caught around the jewelry, increasing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease if not cleaned regularly.

Allergic Reaction

Some people may have allergic reactions to certain metals used in piercing jewelry. To avoid this, always choose jewelry made from hypoallergenic materials like surgical stainless steel, titanium, or gold.

Piercing Closure

If you remove the jewelry from your smiley piercing, the hole can close up relatively quickly due to the fast-healing nature of the mouth’s tissues.

How to Prepare for a Smiley Piercing

Getting ready for a smiley piercing involves both physical and mental preparation. Ensuring you’re well-prepared can help make the process smoother and more comfortable. Here are some steps to consider:

Do Your Research

Understand what a smiley piercing entails, including the risks, potential complications, and the aftercare required. This also includes researching and choosing a reputable, professional piercer who is experienced in smiley piercings.

Stay Hydrated and Well-Rested

Make sure you are well-rested and hydrated on the day of your piercing. This will help your body cope with the stress of the procedure and promote better healing afterward.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

These substances can thin your blood, which may lead to excessive bleeding during the piercing. They can also affect your ability to care for your piercing properly post-procedure.

Eat a Good Meal

Having a meal before your appointment can help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent you from feeling faint or dizzy during the piercing.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Clean your teeth thoroughly before your appointment to minimize the risk of introducing bacteria into the piercing site.

Choose Your Jewelry

Think about the kind of jewelry you’d like to wear. Consider materials, size, and style. Keep in mind, however, that your initial jewelry will likely be a simple, small ring to allow for swelling and healing.

Prepare for Aftercare

Before getting your smiley piercing, make sure you have the necessary items for aftercare at home. This can include a saline solution for cleaning, a new soft-bristle toothbrush to prevent irritation and alcohol-free mouthwash.

Plan Your Schedule

Consider scheduling your appointment at a time when you can rest afterward. Avoid having the procedure before a big event, as the area may be swollen and tender for a few days.

Finally, remember to stay calm. It’s normal to feel a bit nervous, but your piercer will guide you through the process. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions or voice any concerns you might have. Your comfort and understanding of the process are paramount.

Smiley Piercing Healing Process

The healing process is a crucial part of getting a smiley piercing. While everyone heals at a different pace, it’s important to understand the general timeline and know what to expect.

Initial Healing Stage

The first few days after getting your smiley piercing are the most crucial. You may experience some swelling, tenderness, or even a small amount of bleeding. This is normal. During this time, ensure to rinse your mouth with a saline solution or an alcohol-free mouthwash after every meal and before bed.

Ongoing Healing Stage

After the initial healing stage, which typically lasts a week or two, the swelling and tenderness should start to subside. However, the piercing is still in the process of healing. Continue with your aftercare routine, keep the area clean, and avoid playing with the jewelry.

Final Healing Stage

The final stage of healing is when the piercing is completely healed. This can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks for most people. Once healed, you may change your jewelry. However, always ensure to keep the area clean, as a fully healed piercing can still become infected if not cared for properly.

During the healing process, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as persistent redness, swelling, pain, or discharge. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention promptly.

Additionally, remember that your mouth heals faster than other parts of your body, so your smiley piercing may seem healed when it’s not. Stick to your aftercare routine for the full recommended healing period to ensure the best results.

Finally, always listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right or if your piercing isn’t healing as expected, it’s always best to consult with your piercer or a healthcare professional. They can provide guidance and advice to ensure your piercing heals correctly and healthily.

Signs of Infection: What to Watch Out For

While proper aftercare significantly reduces the risk, infections can still occur with any piercing, including smiley piercings. Here are some signs of infection to keep an eye out for:

Persistent Redness and Swelling

Some redness and swelling are normal after getting a piercing, but if these symptoms persist for more than a week or two or get worse over time, it could be a sign of an infection.

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While a certain level of discomfort is normal after getting a piercing, intense pain or pain that increases over time could indicate an infection.


The area around the piercing feeling unusually warm or hot to the touch can be another sign of an infection.


While some clear or whitish discharge can be a normal part of the healing process, yellow, green, or foul-smelling discharge is usually a sign of infection.

Fever or Chills

Systemic symptoms like fever or chills are serious signs of an infection that has spread beyond the piercing site. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience these symptoms.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Don’t attempt to treat a serious infection on your own.

However, with good aftercare practices, most infections can be avoided. Remember to clean your piercing as advised by your piercer, maintain good oral hygiene, and avoid playing with your jewelry.

Taking these steps will help ensure your smiley piercing heals properly and looks great for years to come.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Smiley Piercing

Proper care and maintenance are essential for any piercing, and your smiley piercing is no exception. Following the correct cleaning and maintenance routine can help your piercing heal correctly and stay looking its best. Here’s how to do it:

Cleaning Your Smiley Piercing

To clean your smiley piercing, you’ll need a saline solution, which you can purchase or make at home by dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt in one cup of warm distilled or bottled water. Rinse your mouth with this solution for about 30 seconds after eating and before bed. Avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, as this can dry out and irritate the piercing.

Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is critical when you have a smiley piercing. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush to avoid irritating the piercing. Also, consider using an alcohol-free mouthwash to help keep your mouth clean.

Avoid Playing with the Jewelry

Playing with your smiley-piercing jewelry can delay the healing process and potentially lead to complications like infection or migration. Try to keep the tongue and lips at rest and avoid the temptation to play with your jewelry.

Eating and Drinking

In the first few days after getting your smiley piercing, stick to soft foods and avoid hot, spicy, or hard foods that could irritate the piercing. Also, avoid drinking alcohol and smoking, as these can interfere with the healing process.

Regular Check-Ups

It’s a good idea to have your piercing checked by your piercer a few weeks after the procedure to ensure everything is healing properly. If you notice any problems or have any concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your piercer or a healthcare professional.

Remember, everyone, heals at a different pace, so don’t worry if your smiley piercing takes a little longer to heal. The most important thing is to take care of it properly and give it the time it needs to heal.

Choosing the Right Jewelry for Your Smiley Piercing

Selecting the right jewelry is a crucial part of getting a smiley piercing. Here are some things to consider:


It’s essential to choose jewelry made from hypoallergenic materials to reduce the risk of allergic reactions. Some of the best materials include surgical stainless steel, titanium, and 14k gold. Avoid jewelry made from nickel, as many people are allergic to this metal.


The size of your jewelry can impact both your comfort and the health of your piercing. Your piercer will likely start you off with a slightly larger piece of jewelry to accommodate for swelling. Once healed, you can switch to a smaller size if you prefer.


There are a variety of jewelry styles suitable for smiley piercings, including captive bead rings, horseshoe rings, and curved barbells. The style you choose largely depends on personal preference.


Your smiley-piercing jewelry should not only look good but also feel comfortable in your mouth. If a piece of jewelry feels uncomfortable, it could lead to complications such as gum recession or tooth damage.

Professional Advice

Don’t be afraid to ask your piercer for advice when choosing your smiley piercing jewelry. They can provide valuable insight based on their professional experience and knowledge.

Remember, while it’s exciting to experiment with different jewelry once your piercing is healed, you should always prioritize the health of your piercing. Always ensure your hands are clean when changing your jewelry, and try to avoid changing it frequently as this can irritate the piercing. With the right care and attention, your smiley piercing can be a unique and eye-catching addition to your look.

How to Change Your Smiley Piercing

Changing a smiley piercing can be a delicate task, given the sensitive area it is in. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the right steps to prevent infection or damage to the teeth or gums.

First and foremost, you should not attempt to change your smiley-piercing jewelry until it has fully healed. The healing period typically ranges between 4-12 weeks. Changing the jewelry too soon could interfere with the healing process and possibly lead to complications like infection or rejection.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to change your smiley piercing:

Step 1: Prepare your new jewelry and tools

Before you begin, make sure your new jewelry and any tools you’ll need, like a piercing taper or pliers, are clean and sterilized. You can sterilize them by soaking them in a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach for ten minutes and then rinsing thoroughly with warm water.

Step 2: Wash your hands

It is crucial to wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and warm water before handling your piercing. This step helps prevent introducing bacteria into the piercing site.

Step 3: Remove the old jewelry

If you’re removing a captive bead ring, you’ll need to detach the bead first by gently pulling apart the ring with pliers. Once the bead is out, you can carefully remove the ring by twisting it out of the piercing. If you’re removing a circular barbell, unscrew one ball end, then gently slide the barbell out.

Step 4: Insert the new jewelry

Using a piercing taper can help with this step, particularly if the piercing hole has started to close up. Insert the taper into the piercing hole, then follow with the new jewelry, pushing the taper out as you go. If you’re using a captive bead ring, once the ring is in place, you’ll need to reattach the bead. For a circular barbell, screw on the ball end once the barbell is in place.

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Step 5: Clean the piercing

Once you’ve successfully changed the jewelry, clean the piercing area with a saline solution to ensure no bacteria have been introduced during the process.

Note: If you’re having trouble changing your jewelry or if it’s your first time, consider visiting a professional piercer for help. The area where a smiley piercing is located can be difficult to see and reach, and a professional can change the jewelry quickly and safely.

Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial for a healed smiley piercing. Brush and floss regularly and consider using an antibacterial mouthwash to keep your mouth and piercing clean.

Understanding the Cost of Smiley Piercing

When planning for your smiley piercing, it’s important to consider the cost. The total price can vary widely based on a few factors:

The Piercer’s Experience

Highly experienced piercers may charge more for their services. This is usually worth the added cost, as their expertise can result in a smoother piercing experience and a lower risk of complications.

The Jewelry You Choose

The cost of the jewelry is typically a significant portion of the total cost of a smiley piercing. High-quality materials, such as gold or titanium, will be more expensive than standard surgical steel.


The cost of smiley piercings, like many other services, can vary depending on where you live. Piercing studios in urban areas or major cities often charge more than those in smaller towns.

Aftercare Products

You’ll need to buy some products to care for your smiley piercing while it heals, such as saline solution and a new toothbrush. While not overly expensive, these are necessary costs to consider.

On average, the cost of a smiley piercing can range from $30 to $90, not including the cost of jewelry or aftercare products. However, remember that this is an average range and prices can vary.

Remember, a piercing is a type of body modification that should be done by a professional. While it may be tempting to opt for a cheaper price, doing so can put you at risk of complications such as infection or incorrect placement. It’s best to consider the cost as an investment in a safe and correctly done piercing. Always prioritize your health and safety when getting any kind of piercing.

Smiley Piercing Vs Other Oral Piercings

Smiley piercings are just one type of oral piercing available. Comparing smiley piercings to others, such as tongue or lip piercings, can help you decide which one best suits your personality and comfort level.

Pros and Cons of Smiley Piercings

Like any body modification, smiley piercings come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some to consider:

Pros of Smiley Piercings


Smiley piercings are less common than other types of facial piercings, so they can help you stand out and express your style.


Unlike most other piercings, smiley piercings are generally hidden unless you smile or open your mouth wide. This can be an advantage if you’re in a situation where visible body modifications aren’t well-received.

Variety of Jewelry Options

There’s a wide variety of jewelry available for smiley piercings, allowing you to customize your look.

Cons of Smiley Piercings

Potential Dental Damage

The jewelry from a smiley piercing can potentially damage your teeth or gums. This risk can be reduced by choosing the right jewelry and following proper aftercare practices.

Healing Process

The healing process for smiley piercings can be a bit more complex than for other piercings due to the mouth’s bacteria-rich environment. However, with proper care, they can heal well.

Risk of Infection

As with any piercing, there’s a risk of infection with smiley piercings. Following aftercare instructions closely can help mitigate this risk.

Not Visible All the Time

While this can be a pro for some, it can be a con for others. If you want a piercing that’s always visible, a smiley piercing may not be the best choice for you.

It’s important to weigh these pros and cons before deciding to get a smiley piercing. Make sure to consider your lifestyle, personal style, and the commitment required to care for the piercing properly.

How to Hide a Smiley Piercing

If you’re in a situation where you need to hide your smiley piercing, such as at work or during a family gathering, there are ways to do so without removing the jewelry. It’s beneficial to know these tricks to maintain your unique style without compromising on societal or professional expectations.

Influential People with Smiley Piercings

The popularity of smiley piercings has been boosted by various celebrities and influencers who have embraced this unique style. Learning about these influential figures can give you some inspiration for your piercing.

Alternatives to Smiley Piercings

If you like the idea of an oral piercing but aren’t entirely sold on a smiley, there are several alternatives you could consider. These include tongue piercings, lip piercings, and even cheek piercings.

Conclusion: Is a Smiley Piercing Right for You?

Deciding to get a smiley piercing is a personal choice that should be made after careful consideration. By weighing up the pros and cons and understanding what the process involves, you can make a decision that you’re happy with.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can anyone get a smiley piercing?

Yes, anyone with a sufficient frenulum (the tissue connecting the gums to the upper lip) can get a smiley piercing. However, it is always recommended to consult a professional piercer for a proper assessment before making a decision.

2. Does a smiley piercing hurt more than other piercings?

The level of pain is subjective and varies from person to person. Some people may find it less painful than other types of piercings due to the thin layer of skin being pierced. However, discomfort during the healing process can be expected.

3. How long does it take for a smiley piercing to heal?

A smiley piercing typically takes between 4 to 12 weeks to heal. Proper care during this period is crucial to prevent infections and ensure the piercing heals correctly.

4. What kind of jewelry is used for a smiley piercing?

Circular barbells and captive bead rings made from high-quality, hypoallergenic materials like surgical steel or gold are commonly used for smiley piercings. The choice of jewelry also depends on your personal preference and comfort.

5. Can a smiley piercing damage my teeth or gums?

There is a risk of teeth or gum damage if the jewelry used is too big or if it constantly rubs against these areas. A professional piercer can help you choose the appropriate size of jewelry to minimize this risk.

6. Is a smiley piercing easy to hide?

Yes, a smiley piercing is one of the easiest to hide as it’s only visible when you smile or open your mouth wide.

7. Can a smiley piercing be a professional liability?

In professions that have strict appearance rules or where oral hygiene is paramount, like in the food service industry or healthcare, a smiley piercing could potentially be a liability. It’s best to consider your professional obligations before getting a smiley piercing.

8. How much does a smiley piercing typically cost?

The cost can vary depending on the location, the piercer’s experience, and the jewelry chosen. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $30 to $90.

9. How should I clean and care for my smiley piercing?

You should clean your smiley piercing with a saline solution or a specialized piercing cleaning product. Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as they can irritate. It’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene during the healing process.

10. What are some common complications with smiley piercings?

While uncommon, complications can include infections, gum recession, damage to the teeth, or rejection of the piercing by your body. Following proper aftercare instructions can help minimize these risks.

Jason Pierce is a professional body piercer and enthusiast. He's been part of the piercing community for over 15 years, mastering the art and safety aspects of body modification. Jason's articles offer guidance on different types of piercings, aftercare, and the cultural significance behind them.

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