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Smiley Piercings : How is it Done, Jewelry and Material Used, Risks

Piercings have become a popular way to highlight certain parts of the body or to show off your unique sense of style. There is no doubt that oral piercings certainly look cool. However, with new styles of piercings coming out every day, how do we know whether they are safe or not? One such new and controversial type of piercing style is known as the smiley piercing. Here’s everything you need to know about smiley piercings.

What is a Smiley Piercing and Can Everyone Get It?

The name smiley piercing may sound a little misleading until you find out what it is. It is a type of oral piercing, but it goes through the frenulum. The frenulum is the small piece of skin that connects the upper lip to the upper gum. This is a very small piece of skin that is not visible. This is why the piercing also remains hidden until you smile. This is why it is known as smiley piercing.(12)

The piercer carrying out the procedure is the best person to determine if you are an ideal candidate to get this type of piercing. It is important to remember that people who have too small of a frenulum or those with braces will not be able to get a smiley piercing. People with gum disease, tooth infection, periodontitis, dental sealants, or any type of oral condition do not qualify for getting a smiley piercing.(3, 4, 5)

A smiley piercing is also sometimes known as a lip frenulum piercing. You can choose the exact jewelry that is inserted into the frenulum. While oral piercings like these are not very expensive, it is important to know that they are not recommended by dental and medical professionals. This is because the aftercare of smiley piercings can be complicated and if proper care is not taken, it opens you up to many health risks, including infection.(67)

What Types of Jewelry and Material Can Be Used For Smiley Piercing?

There are several types of jewelry that can be used for smiley piercing. These include:

  • Captive Bead Ring: A captive bead ring is the most commonly used jewelry for smiley piercing, especially if the piercing is new. This piece of jewelry is circular in shape and one small bead is used to close it.
  • Barbell or Circular Barbell: A circular barbell is mostly used as the initial jewelry by people who have gotten a brand new piercing. This jewelry is shaped like a horseshoe and there is a bead on each side to keep the piercing in place.
  • Seamless Ring: A seamless ring is a simple, plain ring, which does not contain any beads to keep it in place. A seamless ring is usually only removed after the piercing heals completely, and it can be switched to using a seamless ring that has beads added to it.

There are different materials available to choose from when you select your jewelry. Your piercer will take you through the material options before the piercing. The commonly used material options for piercing jewelry include:

  • Gold: Only 14-karat yellow or white gold is used for lip frenulum jewelry. Any piercing jewelry for lip frenulum made of over 18-karat gold does not remain intact, or without damage for long. This is why it is best to avoid using any gold-plated jewelry for a lip frenulum as it can also lead to infections.
  • Niobium: This is a non-corrosive and hypoallergenic material that is unlikely to get damaged, and is preferred by many piercers.
  • Stainless steel: While this is mostly hypoallergenic, stainless steel may cause a little bit of irritation in some people.
  • Surgical Titanium: If you have sensitive skin, titanium would be the best option to go with and your piercer is also likely to suggest the same.

How is a Smiley Piercing Done and Does it Hurt?

Your piercer is going to first evaluate you to determine whether you are a good candidate for getting this type of piercing. If you are found to be an ideal candidate, your piercer will then begin the process of giving you a smiley piercing. The procedure is quite quick and lasts only a couple of minutes. Here is the process of how a smiley piercing is done:

  • To begin the process your piercer will first give you an antimicrobial solution to rinse out your mouth. This will ensure that your mouth is free of any harmful bacteria that may cause potential infection.
  • Once your mouth is clean, your piercer will pull back your upper lip so that they have a clear view of the frenulum.
  • The piercing will be made with the use of a sterile needle. It is important to ensure that your piercer uses a clean and unused needle to carry out the piercing.
  • Your piercer will thread the jewelry through the hole and if there are any beads on the jewelry to hold it in place, they will screw them on.

It is a common question to wonder whether a smiley piercing will hurt or not. Well, when you get pierced by the needle, it is going to be painful. The fact is that when it comes to getting any type of piercing, the fleshier the body part you want to get pierced, the lesser the piercing will hurt. Since the lip frenulum is a very delicate tissue, it is likely that it is going to hurt a lot more than say an earlobe or lip piercing. However, these piercings are done rather quickly, so it is only going to hurt for just a few minutes. Taking deep breaths will help relieve the pain. Of course, your own threshold for pain tolerance also has a role to play.(89)

It typically takes around 4 to 10 weeks for a smiley piercing to heal completely if there are no complications like an infection. Since this is a highly sensitive location, it is of utmost importance that you take proper aftercare and you keep the area clean to ensure there are no complications and you are able to keep your piercing for a long time.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Smiley Piercing?

Smiley piercings are carried out in a highly sensitive part of the body. If the piercing is done incorrectly or not cared for correctly, you may end up having to deal with potentially dangerous and highly uncomfortable side effects of smiley piercing. This is why it is important to discuss the following risks with your piercer before you go ahead with the piercing:

  • Infection: The mouth is a natural breeding ground for the growth of bacteria due to all the eating and drinking. Bacteria may also get into the mouth through smoking, kissing, etc. You may develop an infection if bacteria gets trapped at the piercing site.
  • Damage to the Gum: If the piercing is not done correctly, it may lead to gum recession over a period of time. Jewelry put in that is sitting too high on the gum line or that rubs against the gums can cause damage to the gum.
  • Damage to the Tooth Enamel: Large beads of the jewelry or any other attachments on the jewelry can start to bump against your teeth, which may cause damage to the enamel. (10)
  • Rejection of the Jewelry: Your body may not accept the piercing or even react poorly to the material of the jewelry, causing a build-up of skin tissue or irritation that eventually pushes out the piercing. (11)
  • Speech Issues: Until you get used to having the piercing in your mouth, it might be challenging to speak clearly with an unfamiliar item in the mouth. Swelling and pain from the piercing can also worsen any existing speech difficulties.


To avoid any potential complications and problems, it is always best to use a professional piercer who has good references, is knowledgeable about the craft, and follows strict hygiene guidelines. Make sure you take good care of your smiley piercing and if you feel that something is wrong, do not waste any time in seeking medical help.


  1. A gum piercing: What you need to know (no date) Colgate®. Available at: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/threats-to-dental-health/what-you-need-to-know-about-getting-a-gum-piercing (Accessed: January 4, 2023).
  2. Houlihan, S. (2022) Smiley piercing: Everything you need to know, The Inspo Spot. Available at: https://www.spencersonline.com/blog/smiley-piercing-everything-you-need-to-know/ (Accessed: January 4, 2023).
  3. Inchingolo, F., Tatullo, M., Abenavoli, F.M., Marrelli, M., Inchingolo, A.D., Palladino, A., Inchingolo, A.M. and Dipalma, G., 2011. Oral piercing and oral diseases: a short time retrospective study. International Journal of Medical Sciences, 8(8), p.649.
  4. Srivastava, S., Shrivastava, T., Yadav, P. and Mali, S., 2002. Oral piercing: Source of fashion or tissue destruction?. Head Neck Surg, 10, pp.199-205.
  5. Samoilenko, A.V., Orishchenko, V.Y., Strelchenia, T.N. and Strelchenia, O.V., 2019. Oral piercing is a new challenge in the dentistry. Medicni perspektivi, 24(4), pp.133-144.
  6. Srebrna, A., Sutkowska, P., Szwaj, K., Puzio, N., Szałkowska, J., Strączek, A. and Thum-Tyzo, K., 2021. The impact of piercing on various aspects of oral health. Journal of Pre-Clinical and Clinical Research, 15(4), pp.204-207.
  8. Hunter, D. (2021) Important: Read this before getting Smiley piercings, AuthorityTattoo. Available at: https://authoritytattoo.com/smiley-piercing/ (Accessed: January 4, 2023). MORE, W.T.K., 1998. ORAL PIERCING AND HEALTH.
  10. Maspero, C., Farronato, G., Giannini, L., Kairyte, L., Pisani, L. and Galbiati, G., 2014. The complication of oral piercing and the role of dentist in their prevention: a literature review. Stomatologija, 16(3), pp.118-24.
Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 5, 2023

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