Not familiar with the term? First widely shared on YouTube, mewing is the practice of changing your tongue posture in an attempt to strengthen and redefine your jawline. Supposedly, if you press your tongue into the top of your mouth—as opposed to letting it sit freely—it will engage your jaw muscles and lead to a “better” jawline.
Now, if you’re thinking that sounds sus, you’re not alone. Despite the trend skyrocketing on TikTok—the mewing hashtag has over 178 million views—many users wonder if it’s actually an effective hack. To find out, we chatted with a few experts in the dental field. Keep reading to find out what they had to say.
Where did mewing start?
Before getting into whether or not it really works, let’s talk about how mewing came about to begin with.
“About 35 years ago, Dr. John Mew, an orthodontist from Surrey, Great Britain, started promoting a technique he called ‘orthotropics,’ which borrowed from the research of his day and claimed positive results using the body’s natural intraoral forces to promote proper growth of the face and jaw,” explains John Pham, DDS, MS, orthodontist and InBrace CEO and co-founder. “In addition to prescribed wear of an orthodontic appliance, Dr. Mew also promoted tongue exercises to maximize the effect.”
While the device Pham speaks of has largely been forgotten, the tongue exercises have not been. Which leads us to our ultimate question…
Does mewing reshape the jawline?
One scroll through TikTok’s mewing discovery page and you’ll likely be shocked to witness the before and after shots. However, according to Lisa Creaven, dentist and co-founder of Spotlight Oral Care, the act of mewing only acts in the moment as a temporary fix, not a long-term one.
“Mewing and proponents of this practice suggest that people who use this practice may experience temporary changes in their jawline or smile but unfortunately, there isn’t enough independent scientific evidence to indicate that mewing provides any long-term changes in contouring the face or jaw positioning,” she explains.
While she acknowledges that hoping to improve oral posture is a fantastic goal, she says that relying on mewing isn’t the way to reach it. Rather, she says that traditional orthodontic measures to straighten the teeth, align the jaw, and change facial profiles is the way to go.
So, should I try it?
Can mewing make for a stellar photo or even a buzzy side-by-side TikTok or reel? Absolutely. Will it help to permanently reshape your jawline? Sadly, no.
“If you ask a dental professional, they will always say that do-it-yourself orthodontics is like playing with fire,” says Dr. Pham. “Just like fluoride, when delivered properly, it can provide long-term oral benefits. When prescribed incorrectly, it can lead to problems.” He says that mewing is no different. So, if your goal is to genuinely reshape your jawline for long term effects, he says that your best bet is to steer clear of social media and instead intrust a dental professional for advice.
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