The Pros and Cons of a Smiley Piercing Explained

Smiley piercings first came on the scene in the 90s but has gained popularity in the last couple of years due to its interesting placement and rarity. If you’re looking to get a new piercing, you may be wondering about the pros and cons of this unique piercing.

What is a smiley piercing?

A smiley piercing is when you pierce your frenulum, which is the skin inside your mouth that attaches your top lip to your top gums. This is called a smiley because the jewelry stays hidden behind your lip, only revealing the piercing when you smile.

Although a smiley piercing is unique and interesting, it does have several drawbacks that may make this piercing a dealbreaker for you. Let’s break down some of the pros and cons.


  • It’s unique
  • Usually heals pretty quickly
  • It’s easy to hide
  • No difficulty eating
  • It’s Unique

This isn’t a piercing you’re going to see very often, so some people are drawn to it because of that. You may see lip or tongue piercings more commonly and want to try something that is different from those typical mouth piercings.


Since the skin inside your mouth is more like a membrane, it regenerates much faster than skin on other areas of your body, allowing for faster healing times. Usually, a smiley piercing will heal in as little as two weeks to a month. Of course, this healing timeline can be extended if you don’t follow the proper aftercare guidelines provided to you by your piercer. These recommendations usually include avoiding hot or spicy foods, smoking, alcohol, kissing, oral sex, biting fingernails, sharing food or drinks with others, and anything else that could irritate the area or cause a buildup of bacteria. You will need to avoid these things for the entire duration of the healing process.

It’s Easy to Hide

Many people are drawn to piercings that they can easily hide in situations when they don’t want others to know they have piercings. You can only see the smiley piercing if you are smiling, and that’s only if you have hoop jewelry in. If you put in a straight barbell, you wouldn’t see the piercing at all. You will likely need to start with a loop when you first get the piercing, but once it heals you will be able to change out the jewelry to something that is easier to hide.

No Difficulty Eating

Some mouth piercings like the tongue piercing make it difficult to talk and eat, and it takes a long period of adjusting to get used to it. The smiley piercing doesn’t impact talking and eating at all, other than during the healing process at the beginning. Once


  • Can damage gums and teeth
  • Rejection
  • Swelling
  • Painful
  • Prone to infection
  • Grows over rapidly
  • They don’t last very long

Gum and Teeth Damage

The jewelry used for a smiley piercing comes into contact with your front teeth constantly, and this can cause damage to the teeth over time. The metal can cause erosion to your enamel which can increase teeth sensitivity. The jewelry’s contact with your gums can also cause the gums to recede, which can lead to other major dental issues that can become painful and costly.


This piercing does tend to reject more often than others. Rejection happens when your body tries to push out the jewelry as it is a foreign object. As the skin regenerates it continuously pushes the jewelry until it is completely removed from the body.  Since there is a tendon at the end of your frenulum, this can be painful, as the jewelry comes into contact with the tendon causing soreness and irritation.


All mouth piercings swell during the healing process and that can last for a couple of weeks to a month. Smiley piercings are prone to swelling even after it has healed. This swelling can occur when food gets caught in the jewelry or pierced area or when something is eaten that irritates the sensitive tissue around the piercing. When you have excessive swelling, it is best to remove the jewelry and clean the area thoroughly. Sometimes this swelling can reach the point that the jewelry is difficult to remove, and it would be best to visit your piercer to have them assist you in removing the jewelry. Having a professional remove the jewelry will help to prevent additional injury.

It Can Be Painful

Because of the placement of the jewelry, your lip and teeth come into constant contact with the piercing and can irritate it, making the area tender and sore. It’s important to keep the area clean and avoid touching the jewelry to reduce irritation. If your piercing does become sore, it is best to clean it thoroughly and avoid eating hot or spicy foods and avoid touching the area.

Prone to Infection

Your mouth is full of bacteria from eating and drinking, as well as other oral activities including smoking, kissing, and even oral sex. This can cause your piercing to be more susceptible to infection when the bacteria gets trapped in the pierced area. If your piercing becomes infected, you will want to remove the jewelry and clean the area well. It may be best to consult your piercer.

It Grows Over Rapidly

Like some other piercings, the smiley piercing tends to grow over very quickly if you remove the jewelry, sometimes in just a matter of a few hours. Again, this is due to the quick regeneration process of the skin inside your mouth. If you are taking out the jewelry to clean it, be sure to replace it quickly to avoid regrowth.

It Doesn’t Usually Last Long

Since the frenulum is so thin and these piercings are susceptible to movement, rejection, infection and other issues, most people don’t have their smiley for more than a couple of years or so. If you want something temporary and unique the smiley might be a good option, but if you’re looking for something to keep for a long period of time or be more permanent, the smiley piercing is probably not the best choice for you. There are other mouth piercings that last longer, such as a tongue piercing that may be more appealing to you.

Weigh Your Options

This is a very unique piercing but the several major cons that were listed, the most serious being the damage to teeth and gums, make this a less desirable piercing to have done. Some piercing artists won’t even do these piercings because of the serious risks. Having a smiley piercing for any length of time will increase the likelihood that you will experience issues with this piercing.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t get this piercing if you have braces. Braces serve as another hazard because your jewelry can snag on your braces and cause the frenulum to become irritated or even tear.

If you are committed to getting a smiley piercing, do your research on piercing studios in your area and make sure you choose a piercer who is comfortable doing this piercing and has done it before. Listen carefully to the aftercare instructions and you should avoid most issues and enjoy your new smiley piercing.