So What Is A Smiley Piercing?

The technical name for a Smiley Piercing (or sometimes called scrumper) is an upper lip frenulum piercing. This type of body piercing goes through the small thin tissue that connects your upper lip to the middle of your gums. This is a quite a popular piercing to have, it does, however, come with some unique risks. So before you go out to your local studio and get this done we are going to go over  the risks, proper aftercare, pain scale, costs, jewelry types and rejection chances



Smiley Piercing Jewelry

The great thing about jewelry for the smiley piercing is that you have a good amount of options. The starter size most often used are small gauge (16-18) CBR (captive bead ring) or a horseshoe barbell. Most piercing shops will offer you a nice starter set. Once you’re healed you are free to pick something more that fits your personal style.

Your technician is going to be very careful on the positioning of your jewelry. The placement is very important because you do not want to cause excess rubbing to your teeth or gums. This is the big risk with this piercing. They will set it so that the ball sits just below your gum line. This way when you smile it will show off your jewelry. This of course is where the name ‘smiley’ comes from.



How Much Does It Cost?

The price of a smiley piercing really varies on where you live. In my local area, Chicago, the price can range from $30-$80. You can get an idea of pricing in your local area with a modified google search. What you want to do is go to Google and use this search term, including the quotations. “body piercing shop+ your zip”

This should produce a few ‘local’ search results. Take your time and visit the websites and any social media sites they may own such as facebook or Google+ Read any customer reviews you may find as well. If their website or their social media pages are poorly designed and provide outdated information it could be a sign their services are as well. Keep in mind that spending a few extra dollars to get pierced in a professional shop will cost much less than a visit to the doctors or dentists office later.



Smiley Piercing Aftercare

The most important thing after you get any oral piercing is following the aftercare guide.  A professional body piercer will provide you with a printout that will have all the rules you should follow, and they will really spend some time with you and go over each one. The first couple weeks after you receive any piercing is when you will feel the most discomfort and have the highest chance of getting an infection so following these steps is very important to the success of your piercing.

sea salt mouth washAs you could probably guess one of the first things that is important after an oral piercing is to keep your mouth clean. This is especially true after snacks and meals.  Most reputable piercing shops will offer a variety of aftercare products.  Your technician will probably show some H2Ocean brand mouth rinse options.  H2Ocean is a quality (non-alcoholic) sea salt mouth wash that is made from all natural ingredients. It’s recommended that you use an alcohol free mouthwash as Alcohol will irritate piercings.  Which will not only cause you some discomfort but increase the healing time!.  H2Ocean Is quite popular in the piercing industry as it is a quality rinse and also comes in a spray option that is commonly used for cartridge piercings to help with irritation & Keloids. Depending on the size of the bottle prices can range between $12 to $20 for 8 to 16 ounces.


While you should keep up with your rinsing after meals and snacks, try not to go overboard.  Even using a Non-alcohol mouthwash can irritate if you are rinsing too much.  On an average day you will rinse your mouth out about 4-6 times. If you notice some light discoloration on your web, your mouthwash may be a little strong.  If this happens to you can simply water down your solution with water to 50/50 mix.


If you’re looking to save some money one of the best options is to make your own sea salt mouthwash.  This is very popular for many of the oral piercings including the tongue piercing, tongue web piercing & the frowny piercing.   It’s quite easy to do and will only take you a few minutes. The ingredients are fairly cheap and what’s left you can use to salt your favorite meal after you’re healed up.  You only need some iodine free sea salt and some filtered (distilled) or bottled water. 

*Pro Tip use warm water when mixing and the salt will dissolve faster.


Sea Salt Mouth Rinse For Oral Piercings

  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine free) sea salt.
  • One cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water

It’s not rocket science here – Grab a clean glass and take 1/8 to 1/4 TSP of the salt and mix it with some warm water.  The warm water will help dissolve the salt faster and it’s more comfortable to rinse with.  As the saying goes, you can have too much of a good thing. Don’t use more than  ¼ teaspoon as this will actually hurt the healing process.

Remember that healing time is going to be around 4-12 weeks.  So be patient and diligent with your aftercare and cleaning routine. You also have one more option to One thing you can do to relive the tedium is learn how to make your own salt water mouth rinse. It’s quite common to use sea salt for piercings, oral or otherwise and It’s a very simple and cheap recipe.




Smiley Piercing Pain

Ahh the big question – How much does it hurt? Well the tissue of the upper lip frenulum is quite thin and the actual piercing is very fast. The good thing about this is that means that the pain caused from the smiley piercing is very low on the pain scale. You will probably feel more discomfort from the clamp than the needle. Many report they are more surprised by the sound of the needle passing through than anything else.

The Risks

While this is a cool piercing to get, it does come with a couple potential high risks. For example, when wearing a CBR the ball has the potential to rub against your gums and teeth. This, over time, irritates your gums and can cause gum recession. This is a very serious condition and if you notice it you should seriously consider removing the piercing.

Tooth enamel wear is caused by the jewelry rubbing over your teeth. This is another serious risk to be considered. If you notice that your piercing begins to migrate, watch how that changes the position of the CBR. If it begins to rub against your teeth you can considering getting a curved barbell or just removing it. These risks are why this type of piercing is normally not worn for long periods of time and why you should never do it yourself.

Doing it yourself

I know some piercings seem easy, costly or perhaps you’re young and your parents won’t sign the permission papers. If you’re thinking of doing it yourself I would strongly recommend against it.

The reason is, because of the unique risks that come with this piercing and the high amount of accuracy needed in it’s positioning. You will simply not be very accurate when trying to do this yourself or having a ‘friend’ do it. If things go very bad you can completely tear your frenulum. This will result in some serious medical bills. You also have a higher risk of getting an infection and the last thing you want is a infected smiley piercing. Please remember if you ever suspect you have an infection from a piercing do not remove the jewelry as this can actually make things much worse.

Mitigation And Rejection

Smiley piercings do come with a high risk of mitigation and rejection as the tissue is very thin and the area quite small. While all piercings do have a chance to migrate anytime you have very thin tissue this chance increases. With this particular piercing if you notice that your jewelry starts to move you really need to keep an eye on it. You do not want to increase your chances of gum recession or tooth enamel wear. Think of this more as a short term piercing.

Things To Avoid

  • Playing with your jewelry with your tongue!
  • Getting into an argument or long conversations. The more you talk the more you may irritate your oral piercing. Take it easy for awhile and let yourself heal.
  • Spicy foods – Yep, spicy foods can irritate your wound. So time to lay off the jalapeno poppers & chili for awhile.
  • Kissing. Yep. You’re going to feel a little lonely for a few weeks. Kissing, as you well know, leads to saliva exchange. This can lead to an infection which is not good. Patience as they say, is a virtue.
  • Well if kissing is out you better believe oral sex is as well.. at least performing it.
  • Drinking alcohol must be avoided during your healing process for the same reason not to use alcoholic mouthwash. It will irritate and lengthen the healing process. Yep, life is going to be dull for a month or so for sure.
  • Don’t put anything in your mouth. Well accept food of course, no need to starve. No fingers (or anyone Else’s fingers) in your mouth, writing instruments or anything else for that matter.
  • This is probably the toughest one of all, Stop smoking! Not even e-cigarettes or ‘medical herbs’. If you do so you will not only increase the time it takes yourself to heal but you will increase your risk of infection.
  • Sharing. Yes, I know, your parents always said you should share with your friends. Well not anymore, for your entire healing process you will be gloriously selfish. No one gets a sip of your tasty beverage or a bite out of that sweet sweet cherry pie. It’s all yours!

You know what to expect now, so go out there and find yourself a qualified piercer in a clean studio and get yourself a new smiley to enhance that beautiful smile.


Hey, the information I provide is based upon common sense and many hours of research. If you think that you have an infection see your piercer immediately. He or she should be able to determine if it is an actual infection or just part of the healing process. If they tell you it’s an infection please seek proper medical treatment. Your piercer may know doctors in your local area that are familiar with body piercing.