What’s That Called?: Oral Piercing Names and Locations

As piercing of the face, ears, and just about anywhere becomes more popular, shopping for jewelry for ourselves or as gifts for others may be more confusing. One surefire way to be certain you’re shopping for the right kind of jewelry for a piercing? By knowing the name and location of popular body piercings and what jewelry can be worn there. And like always, we’re here to help with a quick reference guide and study session. Today we’ll cover oral piercings!

Oral Piercings

An oral piercing is a piercing done anywhere inside the mouth. These piercings are often tricky to buy for because sizing is not only a factor, but materials as well, especially for piercings done through the sensitive connective tissues of the inner lip. There are a few basic mouth piercings that everyone should know before setting out to shop for someone who’s pierced. They are: the tongue piercing, the tongue web piercing, the vampire, and the smiley piercing.

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The term “tongue piercing” is applied to the simple vertical piercing of the tongue itself, including many variations of multiples that may have their own names when placed in particular patterns.

Tongue web piercing (also called a Marley) is a piercing of the frenulum linguae, the “web” of connective tissue underneath the tongue that attaches it to the lower gum plate. This piercing is most often worn as a small curved barbell or ball captive ring, because curved shapes lend themselves better to this area of the mouth than straight barbells.

Piercing through the connective tissue at the sides of the upper lip (above the canines) is called a vampire piercing. This is most often done on both sides for a symmetrical and truly vampire imitating effect, although as with any other piercing it may also be done on one side only. When the upper lip frenulum at center underneath the cupid’s bow is pierced, it’s called a smiley.

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Due to the danger of eroding the gums or damaging the teeth themselves or the enamel, all piercings inside the mouth must be pierced by an experienced piercer and cared for industriously while healing. Because oral piercings require constant cleaning from contact with smoke, food, soda, and anything else that enters the mouth, aftercare products make great gifts for those with any oral piercing less than six months old.

For the most part, jewelry worn inside the mouth is of a smaller gauge because of the delicateness and size of the tissues being pierced. This means that most web and frenulum piercings will be done in a 16 gauge and require circular jewelry of only 6 to 8 millimeters in diameter. Some of the best materials for these types of piercings are those that are lightweight, non-metallic, and biocompatible, such as bioplast or bio-flex. These materials will be less likely to reject because they are hypoallergenic, slightly flexible, and very lightweight. They are also less apt to wear down the gums or cause irritation to any of the tissues inside the mouth.

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Tongue rings are generally slightly larger at a 14 gauge, and are far enough from the gum line that metals and decorative tips will normally not cause any damage or present a problem.

Some of the less common oral piercings include the frownie (done at the bottom lip’s center opposite of a smiley), the dental piercing (in which a tooth is actually drilled to accommodate a fitted gem), and the dermal gum piercing.