Monroe piercings! These upper lip piercings are named for Marilyn Monroe’s classic mole. Placed on either side of the upper lip (or sometimes paired across both!) these piercings became incredibly popular in the 90s and 2000s, and have remained a staple piercing in studios across the world. Most commonly seen sporting small glittering gems, these piercings are a great way to add a little extra shine to your smile. However, like all oral piercings they come with some concerns for your teeth and gums, so let’s look at what to consider when getting a Monroe piercing!
Personally, I think it would make the most sense to call any upper lip piercing simply, upper lip piercings. Particularly with the popularity of various placements like paired sets, doubles, and unique placements. It’s must easier and makes more sense to refer to them as upper lip piercings rather than a bevy of different slang terms. That being said, traditionally any upper lip placement has been a Monroe, so I will use that terminology for this post, but I would love to see more clients and piercers use upper lip piercing instead!
Monroe piercings are no exception to being anatomy dependent. Fortunately, good anatomy for these is very common. That said where you envision this piercing going and where works with your anatomy may not align. We need to pay as much attention to your teeth and gums on the inside as we do the placement on the outside. With Monroes if these are placed or angled incorrectly they are very prone to catching your teeth while talking and eating which can lead to chipping a tooth. And no one wants that. So it’s important we consider the teeth and gums and place these in a spot to minimize any oral damage from having it. How your teeth and gums sit, the shape of your jawline, and the height of your lips all play a factor in where and how we can do these.
Good oral hygiene is also a major factor as any lip piercing can buildup plaque and cause oral health issues that way. Keeping up with brushing and flossing is very important with any oral piercings. Monroes also do not play well with braces as they can easily hook on brackets and wires and cause damage. If you have braces or will be needing them soon, I would wait on getting a Monroe. Invisalign sometimes can effect Monroes as well, if they are placed high enough that the disc hooks the edge of the aligners. It’s worth discussing this with your piercer and your dentist to make sure this piercing will be safe for you!
Oral piercings are very known for having quite a bit of swelling, and Monroes are no exception. If you’ve ever considered lip injections, these are like a trial run- your upper lip will be quite plump after this piercing is done! That said Monroes often have slightly less swelling than say vertical lip piercings or philtrums, which is nice. But they still swell enough to require being pierced with a longer barbell initially to accommodate for swelling. Once the swelling goes down it’s very important to get that jewelry shortened that way you don’t catch it while talking and eating. Many clients find upper lip piercings more prone to hooking on their teeth then lower lip piercings, so care while eating and talking with your long bar is important.
Safe Oral Products
While this heals, a big factor in it healing well is using oral products that are safe for the piercing. This means no products that are for whitening or contain whitening chemicals or abrasives like charcoal. Check ingredient lists too, because many toothpastes and mouthwashes hide whitening chemicals. Just like with a root canal or other major oral work, harsh chemicals like that can irritate and disrupt a healing wound. Yes, that also means you should discontinue actually whitening your teeth while this heals. Once it is healed is fine, but those chemicals are not awesome for your Monroe while its healing. Alcohol free mouthwash is also going to be gentler while it’s healing.
For other information about healing, and some of the myths about healing (like spicy foods, alcohol, and other things, check out this blog post about the myths and misinformations surrounding any oral piercings!
Like most oral piercings a good fit on jewelry is the most essential factor for jewelry. You want pieces that are snug and not going to catch on your teeth and gums, and nesting is a great way to prevent that from happening. I have a whole blog post about this you can read here. For the decorative part of the monroe, the choices are endless. Then most popular is a small simple gemstone, but we don’t want to go too small until things are very well healed. Fronts that are too small can be snagged and pulled through the lip which is not fun. Even well healed if your goal is something very small and dainty, you’ll want to be careful with it. Larger and more decorative pieces can also be worn here, and make a great statement! Hoops are not a good idea for Monroes as they can rub on the teeth and gums and cause serous damage. Flat back labrets are the best thing to keep oral health risks low.
Monroes are a fun, classic lip piercing that looks great on all genders, face shapes, and lip shapes! Whether you like a single on one side, a double, or even a paired setup, these can be dressed up or dressed down for every occasion. Much like philtrums they wear similar jewelry and can be a great setup with other lip piercings. If you been considering a monroe, I’d say go for it!