Smiley Piercings and Jewelry
A smiley piercing, also known as a lip frenulum piercing, is a trendy facial addition that punctures through the upper lip frenulum. This is the thin stretchy tissue that connects your upper lip to your gums. While a smiley can elevate your style when done correctly, you need ample info on proper placement, jewelry, pain, and aftercare involved before committing.
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Where Exactly is it Pierced?
The ideal placement for a smiley piercing is directly through the frenulum membrane about 1/4 inch off center. Reputable piercers will first mark the exact spot with a surgical pen. They aim to puncture the lip’s frenulum without hitting any veins or gum tissue.
Proper smiley placement will allow the jewelry end balls to peek through either just above or below the teeth line when you smile. If placed too far off center, the jewelry could tug at your lip or rub against gums. Anatomies do vary, so your piercer must gauge the best entry and exit points for your individual lip shape. Don’t hesitate to request marking first.
What to Expect Pain-Wise
Compared to oral piercings like the tongue or cheek, the lip frenulum is generally less nerve-packed. But a smiley piercing still involves pushing a needle through a highly sensitive part of the mouth. Some level of pain and discomfort is unavoidable.
Many describe the initial piercing pain as a quick sharp pinch, sometimes accompanied by a hot stinging sensation. Others report minimal pain during the actual puncture. What’s certain is that soreness, swelling and tenderness will follow for several days of healing.
Take slow deep breaths during the piercing process to relax. Having a friend accompany you for moral support is also recommended. Ibuprofen, Arnica gel, and ice packs help tremendously during aftercare to keep post-piercing discomfort in check. Within 1-2 weeks, most pain and sensitivity subsides.
Initial Jewelry for Smiley Piercings
The initial jewelry inserted into your new smiley will be a 16 or 14 gauge barbell style piece. Curved barbells with ball ends are the most common and safest shape for fresh lip frenulum piercings. Small-gauge captive bead rings can sometimes be used as well.
Avoid hoops or rings at first as they tend to move around and tug on the delicate lip tissue. Smiley jewelry should be made from implant-grade stainless steel, titanium, niobium or solid 14k gold. Stay far away from cheap mystery alloys prone to reacting.
The balls or beads on the ends of the barbell will vary from plain to gemstone to glow-in-the-dark colorful options. This allows for personalization while keeping the design low profile enough to not interfere with your smile and teeth. Your piercer can advise on ideal initial jewelry shapes and materials.
The Healing Process
Expect the healing period for a new smiley piercing to take about 6-8 weeks. During this time, you must keep the jewelry in place and meticulously care for the puncture wound. Opt for soft, lukewarm foods only as very hot, spicy or crunchy foods could disturb the sensitive tissue.
Avoid playing with the jewelry using your teeth or tongue. Don’t let others tug or touch your new piercing either. Smoking, drinking alcohol and oral sex are off the table during the healing phase too, as these activities hinder proper healing.
Use an alcohol-free antimicrobial mouthwash twice daily to gently cleanse the site. Lightly pat your lip dry afterwards rather than rubbing vigorously. Consistent cleaning and not disturbing the piercing will ensure proper healing in 6-8 weeks. Consult your piercer if significant swelling, pain or bleeding occurs.
Potential Risks to Consider
Despite proper aftercare, smiley piercings do pose some risks to be aware of, including:
– Excessive swelling that inhibits eating or drinking
– Bleeding that persists longer than a day after piercing
– Nerve damage that causes lip numbness
– An infection that sets in due to bacteria in mouth
– Rejection if the angle or placement doesn’t suit anatomy
– Gum recession or irritation from jewelry
– Cracked or chipped teeth from jewelry
– Unsightly scar tissue
Discuss your anatomy and prior dental work to assess risks. Having an exceptionally qualified piercer and following all aftercare can help minimize chances of complications. But adverse reactions are still possible.
Is it Permanent?
While smiley piercings make a bold impact, they are not designed to be lifelong additions. The frenulum tissue is very thin and piercings there will close up quite quickly once jewelry is removed. The hole could begin sealing in just hours after taking the piercing out.
In most cases, a small white scar remains on the interior lip after healing. But externally the piercing will not leave a visible hole or divot. Complete sensation also returns to the lip after the jewelry comes out. So smileys can be enjoyed temporarily without permanent repercussions.
Caring for Your Smiley During Healing
To ensure your new smiley piercing heals properly, be rigorous about aftercare:
– Rinse mouth 2-3 times daily using alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash
– Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed for soreness and swelling
– Eat soft, lukewarm foods only – avoid spicy, hot, crunchy items
– Gently dab off any discharge using gauze – no scrubbing
– Sleep with head elevated on pillows to minimize swelling
– Avoid playing with jewelry using teeth or tongues
– Refrain from smoking, sharing drinks or cigarettes, or oral sexual contact
– See your piercer immediately if redness and pain persists or gets worse
Closely following your piercer’s aftercare instructions reduces chances of complications. Within 6-8 weeks, your frenulum should be healed and ready to show off your new smiley bling.
Is a Smiley Piercing Right for You?
If properly placed, cared for, and temporarily enjoyed, a smiley piercing can be a fun way to amp up your lip flair. But the pain level, healing time, and risks should not be underestimated. Be sure your oral health and hygiene are stellar. Research reputable studios. Ask to see portfolios. And follow aftercare diligently. Take these steps and you can rock a smiley piercing with confidence!