What is a Labret Piercing?
Often considered to be a form of lip piercing, labret is not exactly attached to the labrum or the lip. It is actually a form of body piercing located directly under the bottom lip and just above the chin. The piercing is both facial and oral since it pierces the area horizontally from front to back. It is also called the tongue pillar.
History of Labret Piercing
Lip piercing has always enjoyed a religious significance in various cultures. The Dogon tribe of Mali and the Nuba of Ethiopia used a ring to pierce their lips. In most other cultures, a pin made of ivory or metal was inserted, just like a labret piercing.
The Aztecs and the Mayans inserted beautiful labrets made of pure gold, inset with precious stones. However, in these cultures labret piercing was only found in men and not in women. Labret piercing is also commonly found in the Native Americans and the Inuit people of North Canada and Alaska. Women of various African tribes wear a labret for beauty reasons and also as part of a betrothal rite.
Types of Labret Piercings
If a labret piercing entices you, consider the choices you have here. The types are basically differentiated on the basis of the positioning of the piercing.
As mentioned previously, generally the labret is placed horizontally from front to back. However, you can get the area pierced with a curved barbell that passes through the top of the lower lip. This is called the vertical labret.
If you get two piercings close to each other, it is called a snake bite. If you get it placed on the same side of the lower lip, you have a spider bite.
If you get a piercing on the tissue attaching your lower lip with the gumline, you have a lowbret. You can get the lowbret right in the center or you can get it pierced horizontally. You may also get it placed in such a way that it angles downward.
Labret Piercing Risks
Now, a labret is both a facial and oral piercing. So, there are risks involved to both these areas of your body. A labret is placed very close to the teeth and gums so there is a risk of damage to these areas. It can scratch your teeth or cause gum inflammation because of constant rubbing.
If you have a habit of playing with the piercing or putting foreign objects such as a pencil in your mouth, you increase the risks of damage and infection. Tooth fracture, enamel erosion and gum recession are some of the problems that may arise because of a labret piercing.
Choose your Piercer Carefully
If you have read the risks and still do want to go ahead and get a labret, it is time to take the next step.
Like with all forms of body piercing, it is important that you choose a professional and experienced piercer. Choose someone who has experience with labret piercing. An improperly done piercing increases the chances of infection and may increase the healing time. It may also cause permanent disfigurement in the area. So, make sure to check on the body piercer. Look for references. Choose someone who comes highly recommended by someone you know.
The Piercing Experience
It takes almost a split second for the piercing to be done. So, you won't even feel it while it is done. If placed correctly, it will not at all be painful. However, keep in mind that a piece of metal has just been inserted into your body. So, your work starts now. The piercing may not be painful but if you don't take good care of the area, it may become quite painful and infected in the coming days.
Aftercare for a Labret Piercing
The first thing to do is not to remove the jewelry from the area, at least not unless it is fully healed. Healing takes approximately 6 to 10 weeks. Let the jewelry stay there. If you have to remove it for any reason, go back to the piercer and get it done. Keep in mind that an oral piercing can close very quickly. So, if you decide to take off your labret jewelry, you may just end up losing your piercing.
Use a solution made of warm water and sea salt. Mix 1/4 tsp of salt in a cup of warm bottled water. Soak the area for about five to ten minutes with the use of a cotton ball. Swish the sea salt solution in your mouth as well. Do this at least thrice a day. This will prevent infection and also promote healing.
Keep the area clean. Use an antimicrobial soap to clean the outside area. An antibacterial mouthwash can be used to clean the inside of the labret piercing.
The area may be swollen for the first few days. Eating frozen yogurt and ice cream will help in reducing swelling and promoting healing.
Chew carefully. You don't want to bite your labret jewelry and damage your teeth! It may take a few weeks to get used to it.
Avoid applying oily moisturizers around the area. These may lead to dirt accumulation and increase the chances of infection.
If you have a habit of biting your nails, don't. Also, make sure not to place pens and pencils in your mouth. Avoid kissing for a few days or at least till the area is healed.
Taking Care of a Labret Infection
Even after taking proper care, infection may occur in the area. If you notice an increase in swelling or pain, or notice some sort of pus formation, consult a doctor. You may also want to consult your piercer, who can give you good advice about how to deal with an infection initially.
Now, you have all the information you need about a labret piercing. So, it is time to go get one for you as well! Labret jewelry should ideally not be removed for at least six months. Once it is completely healed, you can remove it easily but carefully. Remove it and place the stud of your choice. Try out different forms and designs to see what is most comfortable for you and what looks great on you. Take your pick from the inexpensive labret jewelry pieces presented throughout the article.
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© 2013 Great Living
savvy on May 24, 2016:
My labret piercing didn't hurt at all. I was terrified to get it done and now I can't wait to get another!
Great Living (author) on July 30, 2015:
No, the piercing doesn't hurt much. But you will need to handle some pain, swelling and bleeding after that. But nothing to be scared of. Just use good aftercare methods to make it heal faster.
Do share your experiences about the piercing. It may help someone else!
T on July 30, 2015:
does it hurt and would numbing cream help at all? I am so sared but really want a piercing
Christie on May 15, 2015:
Simply Saline wound wash works too.
Simone on April 29, 2015:
Crusties such a gross name, im already day 2 into my labret healing, not looking forward to "crusties".
but gonna clean properly with"ear buds" and salt solution wen time comes.
Great Living (author) on February 07, 2015:
That's great advice!
Yes, indeed crusties are pretty normal and your idea of using a q-tip and sea-salt mixture to clean them is great and should be used by everyone who goes for a labret piercing.
Plummie on February 06, 2015:
You seemed to overlook that getting crusties on the piercing is normal. This can be scary for a first-timer if they aren't told up-front that crusted, greenish stuff appears. You should always clean it with a q-tip soaked in sea-salt mixture, or with antibacterial soap to when you notice some crusties. Then you run cool water over the piercings afterwards. Mine kept coming for roughly a week or two.