We all know about nose piercings, nipple piercings, and of course, the classic ear piercing, but have you heard about the smiley piercing? Maybe you have, but a lot of people haven’t. It’s a unique piercing. However, because of its specialized location, it may require some extra aftercare.
Smiley piercings are placed in the frenulum that attaches your upper lip to your gumline. Most of the time, they are invisible and are only revealed when you smile, hence the name smiley piercing.
Due to being located in your mouth, they come with additional aftercare instructions that other piercings do not. They also have a higher risk of complications because of the sensitive area.
How to Care For a Smiley Piercing
For the first several weeks, but especially in the first few days after getting your smiley piercing, you’ll need to do quite a bit of aftercare.
The first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you’re flushing your mouth, and specifically the piercing area, with warm sterile saline or sea salt solution twice a day or as directed by your piercer. For a smiley piercing, you’ll use the solution just like a mouthwash. You’ll want to do it after you brush your teeth, so you know you’re targeting the piercing, not the rest of your mouth. Ideally, you should hold the solution in your mouth, so the piercing is submerged for approximately five minutes.
Do your best to avoid fidgeting with it. These piercings can be especially tempting to mess with. Flipping it around with your tongue is bound to be a fun pastime. However, moving it around can cause significant damage to the tissue surrounding the piercing. Those are the rules for basically every piercing, but because the smiley piercing is in a high-use area, the mouth, there are a couple of extra things you should keep in mind.
You’ll want to make sure you’re not eating any foods that will be hard on your piercing or slow the healing process. You should avoid spicy and highly acidic foods as these can irritate the tissues surrounding the piercing. You should also try and avoid eating anything hard or crunchy. The last thing you want is a potato chip shard going into your fresh piercing.
How Long Do Smiley Piercings Take To Heal?
A smiley piercing can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks to heal depending on the person, both how quickly they recover and how diligent they are in their aftercare regiment.
You need to remember that smiley piercings are done in an extremely sensitive area. It’s also an area that is constantly irritated. If you get your ear pierced, it’s relatively easy just to say you won’t touch your ear, and that’s that. With your mouth, that’s impossible to do.
It’s not like you can just stop eating or drinking, so you’ll constantly be introducing new bacteria to the piercing and irritating it by moving it around. While you can do your best to be gentle with it and eat non-irritating foods, the reality is that it’s going to take a bit longer to heal just because of the location.
Once your piercing has healed, you should feel no pain in the area upon regular contact, and you should be able to move the piercing around a bit without experiencing discomfort. However, even after you’ve reached this point, it will be unwise to take your piercing out for extended periods. It can take several months past the initial healing period for your piercing to stop trying to close every time you take the piercing out.
How Painful is a Smiley Piercing?
One of the most common questions you’ll hear when someone gets a piercing is this: “How bad does it hurt?”
Unfortunately, this is always a tricky question because it greatly depends on the person. For example, a helix piercing will be super painful for some people, while others report feeling close to nothing. It will depend on how the nerves run in your body and your pain tolerance.
While a smiley piercing is done in a pretty sensitive area, the benefit is that you’re piercing a very small and thin piece of skin. There won’t be much maneuvering, and the worst of it should be over in just a few seconds. Some people report feeling a very strong pinch sensation, while others say it was virtually painless. There’s no way to know how your body will respond until you try it.
Signs That Your Smiley Piercing is Rejecting
When getting an oral piercing, you may be concerned about the possibility of your body rejecting the piercing. Because of their location, oral piercings are more likely to reject than other piercings, such as ear or nose piercings.
If you’re worried that your body is rejecting your smiley piercing, there are a few signs you can look out for. The first thing to look out for is if your piercing just isn’t healing. Most piercings are red and sore, maybe a bit scabby, the first several days after you get the piercing done. However, this should gradually get better, not worse. If it’s getting worse, your piercing may be infected, or your body may be rejecting it.
Another telltale sign that your body is rejecting the piercing is that the skin the piercing is under is becoming thinner. You’ll be able to see more of the piercing than you were before. This is because the skin around the piercing is retracting to allow it to be rejected.
Along with that, if your piercing hole is becoming larger or stretched out looking and the jewelry is hanging differently than it was when you first got it, your body may be rejecting the piercing. Regardless of whether or not it’s happening, you should see your piercer again to ask for advice if you have any of these symptoms. More often than not, there will be a solution.
Smiley Piercing Risks
A common concern when it comes to oral piercings is that they will in some way damage teeth or gums. While you can do things to prevent this, it is a risk that you have to keep in mind.
One of the most common issues people face with smiley piercings is gum recession. Gum recession can be caused by additional pressure on the gums. A smiley piercing is through your frenulum, yes, but it rests against your gums. If you’re already prone to having receding or sensitive gums, you might have issues with gum irritation or recession.
If this begins to happen, you have two main options: either take the piercing out or try to switch to less irritating jewelry. Sometimes, if you have jewelry that has additional adornment or is chunkier, it can put additional pressure on the gums. So, in that case, you can try switching to a more petite, smooth hoop to see if that helps.
However, keep in mind that this is a very serious problem. Receding gums are permanent, so once they’re gone, they’re not coming back. It’s important to stop the damage as soon as you notice it, and that may mean removing your piercing for good.
Another issue that you’ll find is common with oral piercings, although not as common with smiley piercings, is enamel damage. Any time that you have additional hard objects moving around your mouth 24/7, you’ll likely face some sort of damage. After all, your teeth are not made to hand having metal jewelry slid against them all the time.
This issue is far more common with tongue piercings due to people’s tendency to run the jewelry along the backs of their teeth. However, it can also occur with a smiley piercing, especially with chunkier jewelry. So, if your smiley piercing is causing damage, switching to a smoother, smaller ring with no additional adornments like gemstones or balls could help.
One last risk to think about before you get a smiley piercing is the risk of infection. Smiley piercings are in a high-use zone. It’ll constantly be coming into contact with bacteria from the food you eat and drink. Movement is also virtually unavoidable because of the natural movements your lips go through during the day from eating, drinking, and talking. This also creates a higher risk of infection.
Although serious, fatal infections from piercings are rare, they’re not unheard of. So, when you’re deciding to get a smiley piercing, you’ll want to keep that in mind and understand that you’re choosing to get a piercing that has a higher risk of infection.
Listen to Your Piercer
You can read all the guides and articles you find online and think you know it all, but ultimately, it’s best to listen to your piercer. They are a trained professional and they will be able to tell you exactly how to care for your piercing in the way that they have had the most success.
If you have any issues whatsoever, never hesitate to call your piercer up and schedule a time to go back in to have it looked at. Your piercer will be able to tell you whether or not the issue is serious and help you to correct it if possible.