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2C.2 Oral Piercings: Lip & Labret

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This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.

2C.2 Oral Piercings: Lip & Labret

2 to 4 months

The Labret piercing is usually made centrally approximately 3/8" below
the colored edge of the lower lip, through or just above the cleft of
the chin. Lip piercings can be made anywhere along the outside of the
lips. Because of the delicate nature of the tissue the colored area
of the lips should not be pierced. If a ring is chosen the piercing
should be placed so that there is no pressure between the teeth and
the ring; pressure will cause the piercing to migrate.

Because the mucous membrane tissue on the inside of the lip
regenerates quickly and readily, a lip piercing may close if it is
left empty, even after the piercing has been healed for several months
or even years.

Labret studs tend to cause deterioration of the inside of the lip; a
niche usually forms under the disc. Labret jewelry usually causes at
least some gum loss where the disc rubs the gums. Labret jewelry can
also cause damage to tooth enamel if the jewelry rubs against the
teeth. Over the long term, continual pressure can cause gum loss and
possibly bone loss beneath the gums. Bone loss can also ocur behind
the bottom teeth as the jewelry pushes the teeth backwards. Bone loss
is sometimes evident by an indentation in the gums below the
gumline. Often bone loss can only be detected by x-ray.

L-shaped Fishtail Labrets are designed to reduce gum erosion. The tail
is intended to fit into the indentation below the gumline, and the
piercing must be placed accordingly. The presence of a large frenulum
may impede ideal placement for a fishtail.

Some piercers prefer to angle the Labret piercing so that the disc is
above the teeth. This placement will avoid gum erosion but may cause
the wearer to accidentally bite down on the jewelry.

Initial jewelry: Captive bead rings in 16 to 10 gauge and 3/8" to 1/2"
in diameter; the diameter should be 1/8" wider than the thickness of
the lip. The ring should not hug the lip. A ring which is too small
in diameter will often cause the piercing to migrate or scar. A
smaller ring may be worn after the piercing has healed.

Labret studs, barbells with a thin 3 - 5mm disc in place of a ball, in
16 to 10 gauge and 3/8" to 1/2" in length; the stud should be 1/8"
longer than the thickness of the lip to allow for swelling during
healing; the stud should be shortened after healing to reduce the risk
of gum irritation. A labret stud can be made adjustable by wearing a
rubber o-ring under the front end. The edges of the disc should be
smoothly rounded. Fishtail Labrets in 18 to 10 gauge. Fishtail labrets
should be made of a flexible metal so that they can be easily

Playing with the jewelry while the piercing is healing can result in
scarring or prolonged healing or migration.

Labret jewelry will collect plaque, especially in the crevice between
ball and bar. Plaque traps bacteria and can cause the jewelry to have
a bad odor. Daily use of an anti-plaque rinse is suggested to prevent
plaque build-up. To remove a build-up of plaque remove and soak
jewelry in an antibacterial denture cleaner following the package

While smoking may be irritating but not necessarily damaging to a new
piercing the use of chewed tobacco products is discouraged as the use
of chewed tobacco has been attributed to oral cancers and lesions.


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