Your Complete Guide to Smiley Piercing: Pain, Price, and Ideas

Nowadays, smiley piercing is one of the hottest piercing trends. But it wasn’t always like that. There were times when smiley piercing was considered a taboo topic. Everything changed in the mid-90s. Back then, a German magazine published an image of Steve Harworth sporting a smiley piercing. Steve was a known body modification artist, but he had never appeared in a magazine sporting a smiley piercing.

Since the piercing becomes visible when you smile, it was given the name “smiley piercing.” The technical name is “upper lip frenulum piercing,” and sometimes people call it scrumper. But it is smiley piercing. Before you get ready to change the way your mouth looks, let us help you understand the process. We breakdown everything from the pain to how the procedure is done to pricing, and also include some ideas you can use.

Your Complete Guide to Smiley Piercing: Pain, Price, and Ideas

Does it hurt?

The first question you probably have is: does it hurt? What is the pain level? I haven’t done it, but I have a couple of friends who have done it. And they all tell me that the pain is very low on the pain scale. The good news is that the actual piercing is done very quickly. Now, the tissue of the upper lip frenulum is thin, and that means it will hurt. But the pain will go away quickly, as the procedure takes no more than a few minutes.

Chances are you will feel more discomfort from the clamp and the piercing than from the needle. A friend of mine told me that the thing that freaked him out the most was the sound of the needle passing through.

How it’s done

Before we discuss how the procedure is performed, I must stress that I recommend you have this procedure done by a professional piercer.

Here is how the process will go down:

  • The professional piercer will prepare you and explain this same process to you. But it is good to be prepared. He/she might also start with some pep talk, just so that you feel comfortable.
  • The professional piercer will have his equipment sterilized, which includes a needle and a barbell.
  • The piercer will then check your mouth to ensure it is in a good, hygienic condition so that he/she can continue the piercing process.
  • Even if your mouth is completely clean, the piercer will give you an anti-bacterial solution that will clean your mouth before the process starts.
  • He/she will then sterilize the needle if not done beforehand. Some prefer to sterilize it while the client is there, so that you can see it with your own eyes.
  • The perforation takes place either in the upper lip or lower lip.
  • You’ll initially feel pain in the sensitive region because the connecting tissue is soft.
  • The piercer will then apply pressure to the needle by the two tissues in the upper lip region to ensure a perfect perforation.
  • At this point, the piercer will insert your chosen jewelry in the perforated region.

Why you shouldn’t do it yourself

I know that at first glance, you might think this is easy. I can just get a sterilized needle, do it myself, and save some money in the process. But I strongly urge you not to do it. For starters, there are many risks associated with smiley piercing, and we’ll get to them shortly. Second, you need a high amount of accuracy to make the perforation perfect. When trying to do it yourself, I’m sure you won’t be as accurate as a professional piercer. You might hit the spot, but it will probably look sloppy.

How much does it cost?

Another reason why I recommend you go to a professional piercer is that this procedure is not very expensive. In fact, it can cost anywhere between $30 and $100, depending on where you live.

A modified Google search will help you get an idea of how much it costs in your local area. To perform this search, use the following search criteria: “body piercing shop + your zip code.”

The search will provide you with several results, all of which are local shops. Check their websites, or even call them on the phone. Make sure to check the customer reviews.

Things to avoid

  • Do not play with the jewelry with your tongue.
  • Avoid kissing for the first few weeks. Sorry, but you will have to be lonely for a few weeks, even though you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Kissing leads to saliva exchange, and that can lead to infection until your piercing is fully healed.
  • Try to talk as little as possible in the first few weeks.
  • Avoid spicy foods for at least a month. Spicy foods will irritate your wound.
  • And since kissing is out of the question, performing oral sex on your partner is also out of the question.
  • Avoid putting anything in your mouth except food.
  • Stop smoking, as it will increase your risk of infection. In addition, smoking will delay the healing process.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol during the healing process. Avoid alcohol mouthwashes as well.


There are several risks associated with smiley piercing. I want to share them with you so that you are prepared for the procedure:

  • Wearing a CBR (captive bead ring) can cause gum problems. The ball has the potential to rub against your gums and teeth, and over time, it will irritate your gum. This might get to the point the ball causes gum recession.
  • Tooth enamel erosion is another risk that you should consider. This is caused by the jewelry rubbing over your teeth. Consider changing your CBR if it rubs against them.
  • Last, but not least, do not get a smiley piercing if you are wearing braces.


The process of healing can last between 4 and 12 weeks. This is the time it takes for your lips and mouth to heal properly. Some people choose stainless steel or gold jewelry to avoid infection and allergic reactions.

The professional piercer will give you a list of all the aftercare procedures. The most important thing is to keep your mouth clean. This applies especially after snacks and meals. But remember, don’t overdo rinsing. One of the best products you can get is a sea salt mouth rinse. You can find it in any health store, or you can make one at home.

To prepare a sea salt mouth rinse, mix ¼ teaspoon of iodine-free sea salt with one cup of warm distilled water. Dissolve the sea salt, and then use this as a mouthwash and rinse. Rinse your mouth after every meal, and brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Avoid touching the piercing with unclean hands. To clean the pierced location, use cotton balls to make sure you don’t cause an infection. Avoid touching the jewelry with your teeth or hands, as it might cause a bacterial reaction. Use hand gloves to apply the solution.

Smiley piercing jewelry

In the end, I want to give you some ideas what piece of jewelry can you choose for your smiley piercing. The great thing is that you have a huge amount of options. Most beginners opt for a small gauge captive bead ring or a horseshoe barbell. Every piercing shop has a starter set.

Once the area is fully healed, you can go for something that suits your personal style more. Make sure to stress to the technician to be careful of the positioning. You don’t want to cause excess rubbing to your teeth or/and gums.

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