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Today let’s talk about something known as nesting. This is a term given to a phenomenon that happens with oral piercings. The backings of the jewelry can sink into the lip tissue and create a “nest” pocket where the backing sits inside it. Consider if you were to fall asleep on a coin, when you woke up you would have an imprint of the coin on your skin! Likewise, when folks have braces there are imprints of their brackets along their lips. With piercings, the backing of the labret stud sits in that imprint and makes a little pocket for itself.

A decade old philtrum, resting in a well established nest pocket

Is it safe?

Yes! As long as there is no pain and discomfort, and a long as the jewelry still easily and freely moves in and out of the pocket, it’s entirely safe. Some people even try to encourage nesting to happen by wearing different lengths and styles of jewelry. If the back sits into a nest pocket, it’s not touching your teeth and gums which can minimize oral damage and discomfort. For many, nesting happens without them ever realizing its happening, and they just notice that their piercings no longer contact their teeth and gums! Many folks with stretched labrets find a good established nest pocket the only comfortable way to wear their jewelry. In fact in lambert stretching groups online how to create a perfect next pocket and lamenting changing jewelry to one that has to nest again is an incredibly popular topic.

A Labret, resting inside a small nest pocket

What if my lip grows over it?

This is a valid concern, particularly with healing or newer piercings. You want to ensure that your piercing is just nesting, and not embedding. Some differences to look for are that nesting is often not painful, where embedding is often accompanied by pain or discomfort. Nest pockets should be healthy tissue, not red, raw or irritated. It should be easy and comfortable to pop the backing in and out of the pocket, and there shouldn’t be any bleeding or secretion from the piercing. If you are ever unsure or suspect embedding, follow up with your piercer!

The same labret, adjusted out of its pocket. You can see the edge of the nest to the right of the disc

Can rings nest?

While nesting is normally specific to stud style jewelry in oral piercings, some clients find that a comfortable fit ring also leaves small indent. Not the same pocket style as nesting, but just marks where the jewelry lays. As long as these are not painful or uncomfortable they are safe, but it is less common to experience this with rings then with studs.

Do other piercings nest like this?

No, this is a phenomenon unique to oral piercings, likely a combination of how soft the tissue is, and how much movement is excepted on oral piercings. You have to imagine you are eating, drinking, and talking all day long- oral piercings get much more movement and pressure then virtually any other placement. The tissue of the mouth is also uniquely suited to forming these pockets.

A pair of labrets nesting

How do I keep it clean?

I personally brush the back of all my oral piercing as part of my daily brushing routine- this included popping them out of their pocket and giving them a good clean, and doing the same when I rinse. I also use a waterpik on a low setting, which is a game changer for keeping jewelry clean and plaque free. I can’t suggest a waterpik strongly enough for anyone with oral piercings.

Nesting can be a little scary when it first happens, but it’s actually an incredibly normal phenomenon with oral piercings! With care, nesting can even be used to help reduce your risks of oral damage and irritation from oral piercings and their jewelry.

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