Smiley Piercings: Guide & Images

  • Written By Dan Hunter on February 15, 2019
    Last Updated: October 27, 2021

If you want to make people work to see your piercings, a smiley piercing may be right up your alley. A smiley piercing can be your little secret until you decide to reveal it.

This type of piercing began soaring in popularity a couple of decades ago and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since. To get the scoop on smiley piercings, keep reading.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a much better understanding of the rewards and risks of this unique and eye-catching piercing.

What Is A Smiley Piercing?

Stick your tongue over the top of your front teeth, right between your gums and your lip. That’s where a smiley piercing goes. With your tongue, you can feel a thin strip of skin that links your gums to your lip. That’s called the frenulum and that’s the spot that is pierced in a smiley piercing.

Because it’s in a spot that stays hidden most of the time, the only time people will see your smiley piercing is when you smile at them. That’s how the piercing got its name.

What Happens During A Smiley Piercing?

Before committing to doing a smiley piercing, your piercer will take a look at your frenulum first. Some people who want this piercing won’t be able to have it done because their frenulum may be too thin. If the frenulum isn’t strong enough to hold the jewelry, your piercer won’t do it.

If you are one of the people who has a weak frenulum, it may be disappointing to learn that you won’t be able to get a smiley piercing. It’s fine if you want to consider getting a second opinion from another piercer.

Although, you should avoid looking for a piercer who will do the procedure regardless of whether it’s right for you. It’s easy to find those types of piercers, but if two reputable piercers tell you this type of piercing won’t work for you, you should listen. They are the experts and they’re telling you your outcome won’t be great with this piercing.

If you go ahead with the smiley piercing at this point, you may end up regretting it. If your frenulum isn’t strong enough, it may end up tearing.

If your piercer thinks you aren’t a great candidate for this type of piercing, you can always get a different type of piercing instead. You’ll save yourself any potential problems you’d face by going ahead with an unsuitable smiley piercing.

If the piercer tells you your frenulum will be thick enough to support a smiley piercing, here is what will happen.

Your piercer may give you an antibacterial rinse for you to use in your mouth before he does the piercing. The piercer will show you the sterilized needle he will use. Next, he’ll pierce the frenulum while your upper lip is held back to expose the area.

The whole process of the needle going in and out will only take a few seconds.

After the piercing is completed, jewelry will be put into the hole. Before you leave the shop, the piercer will discuss any aftercare instructions with you so you know how to best take care of your new piercing. Those instructions are important because they’ll help you cut down on the chances you’ll develop complications.

Smiley Piercing Pain – How Much Do They Hurt?

Pain is relative. How much pain you feel during and after a smiley piercing depends on how high your tolerance for pain is. Some people handle pain much better than other people do. If you’re one of those people, you’ll probably sail through this experience with little discomfort.

Even if you’re the type of person who crumbles at the mere thought of pain, you’ll probably still fare pretty well with a smiley piercing. While any piercing usually hurts some because you have a sharp needle passing through sensitive tissue, a smiley piercing isn’t nearly as painful as some other piercings.

Smiley piercings are in a sensitive area, but you also have to remember the frenulum is a very thin strip of skin. For that reason, it doesn’t take long for the needle to pass through, which helps cut down on the pain level. It won’t require as much pressure to pierce as thicker areas do either and that will also help your comfort level.

It can be normal to feel slightly panicked at the thought of how much pain your piercing is going to cause. Though, try not to dwell on it. Think of something more pleasant instead. Try to envision how cool your new piercing is going to look. That will give you something fun to concentrate on instead of only focusing on the pain.

How Much Does A Smiley Piercing Cost?

Despite the high level of precision this type of piercing requires, it isn’t that expensive to have performed. At a reputable piercer’s shop, it will likely only run you anywhere from $30 to $90.

If you go to the most popular piercing parlor in your city, you’ll obviously pay a lot more than you would if you went to a less trendy place. Also, if you live in a small, rural area, you’ll find your piercer will probably charge closer to the lower end of that range.

Piercing is just like any other industry. You can expect to pay more for in-demand experts and depending upon the location of the piercer’s shop.

Since this type of piercing isn’t outrageously expensive, you can afford to be picky about the type of piercer you use. Before you agree to anything, ask him about the sterilization of his equipment. You’ll want to do that before you’re sitting in the chair, seconds before the needle is about to go in. That’s not the time to be asking such important questions.

Making sure sterile equipment is used can help you avoid getting infections around your piercing site. More than that, it can also help you prevent potentially ending up with another scary and unwanted side effect of your piercing – a serious and preventable disease like hepatitis C.

Also, it’s really important that you choose a qualified piercer because a smiley piercing carries a high risk of rejection if it is done too close to the surface of the skin on the frenulum.

You need to hire someone who really knows his stuff. The last thing you want is to pay for a botched piercing. You’ll have a lot of unnecessary pain and headaches that could have been avoided if you just would have found a qualified piercer to do the work in the first place.

Doing a little bit of research into the piercer you want and the safety practices he uses will help you find the best candidate to perform your piercing. If he charges on the higher side of the fee scale, it’s worth it if he knows what he’s doing.

What To Do Before Getting A Smiley Piercing

Before you go ahead with this piercing, you need to fully understand it and any potential risks. As long as you have a complete picture of how everything will go and what risks you face, you can make an informed decision.

After you feel comfortable with the possible complications, you should ask your piercer for a play-by-play on what will happen during the piercing. Some people handle the stress and pain of a piercing better when they know how it’s going to go down. The fear of the unexpected is the worst part for some people.

Therefore, the key is to talk to your piercer to make sure there aren’t any curveballs when it comes to this procedure. After you’ve figured out what’s going to happen, you can sit back, relax and before long, you’ll be enjoying your smiley piercing.

Smiley Piercing Aftercare & Cleaning Guide

After you have your smiley piercing done, you’ll need to take great care of it to make sure you don’t get an infection and to help minimize any pain you’ll feel in that first week or two.

To keep your piercing clean and to help stimulate its healing, you should rinse your mouth twice a day with a sea salt mixture. You don’t have to be a chemist to mix this solution up. It only takes two simple ingredients – warm water and sea salt. Make sure you aren’t using iodized table salt because that isn’t the same thing at all.

To make this mixture, take one-fourth of a teaspoon of salt and stir it into one cup of water. Put some water in your mouth and swish it up so it reaches your smiley piercing. Hold the water there for a couple of minutes to thoroughly saturate the area, then you spit it out. You can take a few sips to make sure you’ve completely rinsed it.

Specialized piercing aftercare sprays are also available to purchase at various stores if you’d prefer a readymade solution with all the right healing properties.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

While your piercing is healing, you should make sure that you touch it as little as possible with your fingers. You don’t want to contaminate it with bacteria and cause an infection that you could have easily prevented by keeping your germy fingers off of it. If you can’t stop yourself from touching it, make sure you scrub your hands well with soap and water first.

In addition, you should resist moving your piercing around with your tongue as well. It will be tempting to wiggle it around and run your tongue over the frenulum area, but you need to fight that urge because if your piercing is being moved around a lot, it’s going to take longer to heal.

When it is healing, you’ll want to skip mouthwash because it will burn like crazy and make the piercing pain seem like a walk in the park.

You should continue to brush your teeth twice a day because you don’t want to end up with a cavity just because you got a smiley face piercing. On the other hand, because regular minty toothpaste can seem way too hot for your piercing, you should look for a milder flavor. You can find bubblegum flavors of toothpaste if you look in the children’s section of the toothpaste aisle.

You’ll also want to cut back on hot or spicy foods for the first few weeks too for the same reason. That feeling of heat on your fresh piercing may leave you in agony for a few minutes. It’s way easier to lay off the hot sauce and the spices. Eating those things can be really painful on your piercing so you’ll want to avoid them for a while.

Acidic foods, like tomatoes and oranges, can also sting your smiley piercing as it heals so you’ll want to pass on those for a couple of weeks as well. Think about how much it hurts to eat an orange when you have a sore in your mouth – it’ll feel like that, but a little worse if you do it after you’ve had a recent piercing.

This next piece of advice will probably be wildly unpopular, but it can help you if you follow it.

Your frenulum is going to be sore for a while after you get your smiley piercing. You’ll want to avoid activities that jostle around that jewelry or inflame that area. That includes kissing. You’ll have to fly solo for a while, which isn’t always the most welcome advice. No one is asking you to live like a monk or a nun, but your lips should take a temporary break from any action.

On top of the pain that you might inflict upon yourself if you go ahead with a make-out session, you could also introduce bacteria from your partner’s mouth into your mouth. That bacteria could cause an infection to start up!

While it won’t likely be a literal kiss of death, it could end up causing you a lot of unnecessary discomfort and expense if you have to see a doctor about the infection.

You should also stay away from smoking and drinking alcohol in the next few weeks since that could slow down how fast your smiley piercing heals.

Due to the fact that even talking a lot can cause pain in the first few days after a smiley piercing, you should opt for text messaging or emails instead of real conversations whenever you can. We live in a digital age – you might as well make the most of it so your mouth can heal quicker.

How Long Does A Smiley Piercing Take To Heal?

As you might expect since the piercing only has to go through such a small area of skin, the recovery time isn’t nearly as lengthy as some other types of piercing. Barring any complications, you should be all healed up in one to three months.

To move things along at a faster pace, you can make sure to get enough sleep because a lack of sleep can majorly hurt your immune system function. Try eating a balanced, healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables so you’ll get a good share of nutrients and minerals. That will give your immune system a big boost.

After you’re healed, then you can think about switching out your jewelry if you want. Until then, you should leave it in place just to be on the safe side.

Smiley Piercing Infections

Infections don’t happen to most people who get smiley piercings, but there is no guarantee one won’t happen to you. If you follow your aftercare instructions, you can sway the odds to your favor, meaning that you may sidestep an infection though.

With many piercing infections, the offending area is easy to spot. In the case of a belly button piercing or ear piercing, you can easily look at the area to watch for any signs of infection. A smiley piercing infection is much harder to spot. It’s in a place that’s difficult for you to watch. To get a decent view, you have to pull your lip up and away from your teeth.

Although it can be hard to see clearly without the help of a bright light or flashlight, examining your frenulum can give you some great visual clues if you suspect you may have an infection. If you have an infection, you may see swelling, redness or discharge coming from the piercing site. That’s never a good sign.

Symptoms you may feel rather than see could also point to an infection. Those symptoms include pain or tenderness. While you’ll feel both those things in the first week or so after a smiley piercing, if they seem to be getting worse instead of better, you should be highly suspicious of infection.

Unlike earlobe piercings which you can try to treat at home if you have an infection, you shouldn’t try to treat smiley piercing infections yourself. If you notice any infection signs, you should go to a doctor right away for an evaluation. If an infection is suspected, you’ll likely be placed on antibiotics.

You don’t want to let an infection grow out of control inside your mouth. It can go from bad to potentially disfiguring very quickly if you’re not proactive.

While it stinks to have to consult a doctor and have the added expense from that; in the long run, it’s the best decision you could make. Treating your infection quickly could help you avoid lots of complications.

Smiley Piercing Risks

While a smiley piercing may conjure up a feeling of happiness because even the name is pleasant and fun, this piercing actually carries a fair amount of risk.

Like every other piercing, there is a small risk of infection. However, on top of that, there is a substantial risk of rejection. If you hear your piercer talking about migration, that’s what your body does when it rejects a piercing. It starts slowly pushing the offending substance out of your body.

If that starts happening, your piercing will continue to get closer and closer to the surface of your skin. Eventually, it will be ejected out of the body, coming out of the front of the frenulum.

Still, migration and infection aren’t the only two complications you can have. If you wear a captive bead ring in your smiley piercing, you might end up with gum recession and tooth damage. The ball will rub repeatedly against your teeth on a daily basis and you may end up damaging the enamel on your teeth.

Smiley Piercing Jewelry

For jewelry selection for your smiley piercing, you have a few choices.

You can use a captive bead ring or a barbell. You’ll likely want to start with a small gauge, especially with a new piercing. You don’t want anything too heavy to begin with, considering how fragile and delicate the frenulum can be.

After a month or two, when your piercing is healed, you can try putting some new jewelry in to change up your look.

No matter which jewelry you opt to wear though, you have to make sure the fit is exactly right so you don’t experience some of the worst complications of the smiley piercing. The jewelry shouldn’t scrape at your teeth because you’ll eventually damage your teeth by wearing down the enamel. Plus, it shouldn’t rub up against your gums either.

The jewelry must also be the right size because you want to make sure it hangs down low enough when you smile that people will be able to see it. What’s the point of having a smiley piercing if you can’t show it off?

In the meantime, while your piercing is healing, if you notice any itchiness or suspect you’re having an allergic reaction, you should stop by your piercer’s shop and ask if you can have the jewelry swapped out to something that is less likely to trigger a reaction.


If you love the idea of revealing a hidden surprise to the people who make you smile, a smiley piercing is a great option for you. It won’t take long to heal and if you make sure to use the proper size of jewelry, you’ll be showing off this piercing for years to come.

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