What Is a Smiley (Frenulum) Piercing and Is It Right for You?

As body piercings become more popular and commonplace, it’s difficult to find a truly unique type of piercing. Nowadays, it seems like everyone has their noses or lips pierced in some capacity—two types of piercings that used to be uncommon.

But with this rise in popularity, people are steadily becoming more ambitious with their body piercing choices. That’s led to a rise in frenulum piercings, or more commonly known as a “smiley.” Like any piercing, however, it’s important to do your research and make sure it’s a good fit for you—literally and figuratively.

This blog will provide a detailed overview of the smiley, its pros and cons, and jewelry considerations for healed smiley piercings.

Understanding The Smiley Lip Piercing

It’s true that the smiley lip piercing is unique because of its location. While it’s not pierced through the lip exactly, a smiley is pierced through the small tissue that connects your upper gum to the inside of your top lip—also called the frenulum.

The smiley was named as such because the piercing itself is only visible when the piercee smiles. Some choose to get a smiley pierced in the connective tissue between their bottom lip and gum, but in that case, it’s called a “frownie.”

If your anatomy is lucky enough to accommodate a smiley, you’ll find that it’s one of the least painful mouth piercings due to the thin nature of the frenulum.

The Smiley Lip Piercing

If you’re properly caring for your new smiley, the healing process should take no less than 1-2 months. During this period, it’s crucial not to touch or move your piercing (not even with your tongue!) in order to avoid any additional irritation. Piercings are like scabs…the more you mess with them, the longer and more painful the healing process.

Every person’s anatomy is different, so be sure to listen to what your body tells you. When it doubt, contact a professional piercer with any healing or aftercare questions.

Pros and Cons of a Smiley Piercing


The main benefit to a smiley piercing is how discreet it can be. For those working corporate jobs that only allow minimal piercings or body modifications, the smiley is great because it stays hidden beneath your lip about 80% of the time. There are also several jewelry options that can make the piercing even more discreet if needed.

Another smiley benefit is its low impact on daily life. While mouth piercings require the same kind of aftercare as any other piercing, they tend to heal faster. And, because the smiley is tucked between your lip and front teeth, there’s less chance to hit or snag it on outside objects.


Even though the location of the smiley is what makes it unique, it also is the reason for its cons.

The primary con of a smiley piercing is the potential damage it can do to your gum and teeth. Because the smiley endures near-constant movement from being in the mouth, the jewelry can bump and scratch your teeth and surrounding gumline, causing damage, swelling, and/or sensitivity.

Another con is that the smiley piercing is not fit to be permanent like other piercings. Based on how thin the frenulum is and how much movement the mouth experiences, the potential for piercing rejection is increased.

That said, if you wear your smiley for a prolonged time period, it’s probable that your frenulum will deteriorate and eventually reject your smiley.

Other Factors to Consider

Anatomy and Suitability

As briefly mentioned, not everyone has a frenulum large enough to be pierced. By assessing its size and shape, your professional piercer will be able to discern whether or not a smiley is right for your frenulum.

If that’s your case, they can give you other piercing options that better suit you.

Personal Comfort and Sensitivity

Before committing to a smiley, take stock of your history and lifestyle. Did you have braces before? Did you despise them, or did you barely notice them? If you hated the braces experience for sensory reasons, a mouth piercing, like a smiley, may not be right for you.

It’s not recommended to get your smiley pierced if you have known dental issues like gum disease, receding gumlines, or enamel problems. Even those with sensitive teeth should avoid a smiley. That’s because the jewelry is made of metal, and its constant movement against your gums and teeth can exacerbate these underlying issues.

Lifestyle and Professional Considerations

If your career requires you to constantly talk, a smiley could be a challenge for you. The healing process works best with less extraneous movement, and even speaking can irritate a fresh smiley. Moreover, during the healing process, a smiley will affect how you eat, drink, brush your teeth, have intimacy with a partner, and so on. It’s important to know these beforehand so the commitment seems like less of an undertaking.

Smiley Piercing Jewelry Styles

Circular Barbell

This is just a regular barbell that’s in the shape of a horseshoe with two screw-off balls on either end. It’s the most common starter jewelry for a smiley piercing. After the healing process, many choose to stick with a circular barbell because it’s classic and versatile.

Spiked Circular Barbell

Captive Bead Ring (CBR)

This ring, or hoop, is connected in the center with a ball that secures the ring in the piercing. In some styles, the ball is replaced by some sort of decorative applique, giving you endless options for a CBR.

Captive Bead Rings

Seamless Rings

A seamless ring is the daintiest of all the choices because there is no ball or applique attached; it’s just one continuous ring that snaps or bends into place. Even though seamless rings are simple, they come in a variety of colors and shapes to accommodate your personal style.

Seamless Rings

When it comes to choosing a unique body piercing, you can’t go wrong with a smiley. Because it’s becoming more culturally popular, there are so many jewelry styles to choose from after your healing period has ended. But for the most success, do your due diligence to figure out if a smiley is right for you. And once it’s pierced, remember that Urban Body Jewelry offers a high-quality portfolio of body jewelry that’s sure to make you smile.