Mewing is a coin termed by fans of the practice and ideally refers to proper tongue posture. Proponents of the art claim that there are exercises one can perform to effectively alter the shape of one's jawline for improved aesthetics. People who practice mewing also claim that it has a myriad of health benefits, some of which include:

  • Relief for sleep apnea
  • Relief for sinusitis
  • A more defined jaw
  • Corrects speech impediments
  • Alleviates pain associated with jaw issues such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Corrects crooked teeth
  • Improved facial structure
  • Improved breathing/ relief from nasal congestion
  • Improved swallowing
  • Improved alignment of chin and nose

It is important to remember that none of these benefits has scientific backing to their legitimacy. But, let’s look at the dynamics of mewing, how to do it, whether it actually works, and if there are alternatives to mewing.

The Origin of Mewing

Mewing existed long before the term was popularised on social media. The pioneer, British orthodontist John Mew, used orthotropics and palate expanders in place of traditional dental techniques like braces. He believed that many facial-related maladies stemmed from poor jaw posture and, as such, prioritised his treatments around managing this ‘root cause’. He began this practice in the ‘70s.

Mew was later joined by his son, and fellow orthodontist, Dr Mike Mew. Together, they grew the orthotropics movement, which focused on tongue posture, the jawline, and non-surgical facial construction techniques. Their techniques in the recent past have received massive airplay on Instagram and YouTube, which led to the online community baptising the art ‘mewing’ in honor of its founders.

John Mew, who is in his 90s, was stripped of his dental licence due to his controversial public take on traditional orthodontics. The General Dental Council levied charges of misconduct against him based on his continued open criticism of mainstream orthodontics treatment and his propagation of unconventional and untested beliefs and practices.

How to Properly Mew

If you’ve decided to give mewing a try, it’s quite simple. You need to flatten out your whole tongue against the roof of your mouth, including the back of the tongue. Do not press the tip of your tongue, but rather ensure that the tongue is in a resting position. Your teeth should be pressed together, your lips touching, and your tongue positioned between the molars. It may feel awkward at first, but this becomes second nature once you get used to it.

What is the Evidence Surrounding Mewing?

We know that mewing is not backed by science, but this is not to say that mewing is not an effective method of altering jawline structure. And while most evidence is based on unregulated testing, the mewing community grows and gets inspiration from what other users post as ‘before and after’ pics. Experts say that there could be some evidence in support, but it could take years to see results.

One theory supports the efficiency of mewing, but only in children. Why? Because the maxilla bone that forms the upper jaw is still developing, and mewing helps widen it. However, this theory also caveats that the process will only be effective if done consistently, which might be next to impossible with younger kids.

Some proponents of mewing claim that due to lifestyle and environmental factors, our jaws have reduced in size compared to our ancestors. This has led to a smaller mouth and more crowded teeth, which can, in turn, lead to maxillofacial deformities. They claim that our ancestors maintained larger jaws from chewing the tougher foods that were available to them. Mewers argue that this is evidence that facial exercises do alter jawline structure and appearances and propose that proper tongue posture can have a similar effect and correct the maladaptation. However, a more effective alternative would be incorporating a chewing exercise device like the Chisell Tough Bite.

Another important facet to consider is that almost all evidence is social media-based. Anecdotal evidence claims results can be experienced within months. But, with the majority of social media proponents being adolescents and kids in their late teens, the simple explanation could be that their faces are still undergoing puberty, which would explain the seeming success.

Finally, you’ve probably heard someone say, “Two things can be true at the same time.” Our first truth is that if your tongue is constantly held in the wrong position, you can develop malformations in the bones and/or soft tissues of the jaws and face. Some mewers believe that the vice versa should also apply. However, the alternative truth, and one not generally accepted in the mewing community, can be that putting your tongue in the correct position might not necessarily alter the shape of your mouth. There’s a study that shows that switching the resting position of the tongue does not affect any muscle activity.

Are there Alternative Explanations for an Apparent Change in Jawline Structure?

In the world today, seeing is not necessarily believing. Some social media users post before and after pics of their jawlines in support of the effectiveness of mewing, while there could be several alternative causes, including:

  • Orthognathic/ jaw surgery
  • General body weight loss/ fat loss
  • More effective jawline exercises like using the Chisell bite
  • Photo editing apps
  • Manipulation of images by capturing from ideal angles, taking advantage of shadows, using makeup, or having the subject manipulate their facial structure by blowing air, sucking in their cheeks, flexing the jaw muscles, etc. 

Common Mistakes When Mewing

For those that are new to mewing, there are a few common issues experienced by beginners and experts alike that may hinder you from drawing maximum benefits, including:

  • Lack of consistency. As with any exercise, you cannot expect results without putting in the work. Therefore, ensure that you make a habit of mewing in order to reap the benefits.
  • Expecting to see changes immediately. You need to be patient. Experts even say it could be years before one sees proper results.
  • Putting too much pressure. If you feel pressure on your face, if it hurts when mewing, or elicits any kind of pain, then you’re pressing too hard, and this could cause additional problems for you.
  • Mewing shouldn’t cause you to breathe through the mouth or block your airways.

Final Thoughts

The evidence for or against mewing is inconclusive. While the science is loudly missing, there have been individuals that have taken on the task to prove and disprove the art, and their evidence is available on the internet in equal measure. There is plenty of room for expert researchers to come in and chart a clear course. Those in the field of dentistry advise that it would take years of consistency to see actual results, so this shouldn't be your quick fix or a medical solution for jaw conditions. Consult your doctor if need be. But if you’re ready to board the mewing train, then choo choo, and get ready for a long and potentially fulfilling ride.