What Is ‘Mewing’? How to Do It and Whether It Works

Mewing is a social media trend in which proponents claim to be able to reshape the jaw by holding a specific tongue position. But does it work?

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“Mewing” purports to improve facial aesthetics and correct orthodontic concerns by habitually positioning the tongue in strategic ways.

Mewing is a beauty trend involving a simple, strategic move of the tongue. Proponents of mewing claim it can chisel the jaw, straighten teeth, improve breathing, and correct orthodontic issues without braces or surgery.

“The ‘mewing’ concept is the idea that the tongue should be placed against the roof of the mouth in order to prevent misalignment of the jaw,” says?Joyce Kahng, DDS, owner of Orange and Magnolia Dental Studio in Costa Mesa, California.

Interest in mewing mushroomed in January 2019, per the?Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.?Its popularity has since surged on social media. But many oral health experts aren’t so enthused.

What Is Mewing?

The term mewing only recently entered the popular lexicon, but the concept behind it dates back to the 1970s. The British orthodontist John Mew coined the technique now known as “mewing” through a practice called “orthotropics.” Characterized by strategic tongue positioning, the mewing technique aims to improve facial aesthetics and correct orthodontic concerns.

Most facial exercises populating the pages of YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram aim to minimize wrinkles or diminish a double chin. But “mewing,” a viral craze with more than 2.1 billion views on TikTok alone, purports to do much more.

What Is Orthotropics?

Most experts, including?Isaac Chinitz, DDS, a clinical assistant professor of dental medicine at Touro College of Dental Medicine in Hawthorne, New York, say genetics primarily determine jaw size and shape.

Mew and his son Michael, a fellow orthodontist, disagree.

According to the Mews, the human jaw has become increasingly smaller and more recessed since the 18th century due to radical changes in diet and lifestyle stemming from the Industrial Revolution. As a result of inadequate space, they say, teeth are more frequently crooked and crowded, and faces are less aesthetically appealing. The Mews’ hypothesis is based on that of Melvin Moss, who believed facial bone structure isn’t inherent but develops through functional demands.

Enter orthotropics. The Mews’ brand of orthodontics aims to correct structural irregularities and improve facial appearance by correcting “oral?posture,” or the alignment of the teeth, lips, tongue, and jaw, Dr. Kahng says.

“When the teeth and tongue are correctly aligned, the jaw is in its ideal position. This is known as ‘optimal oral posture,’ and the jaw is able to move freely and easily,” Kahng says. “When the teeth and tongue are misaligned, the jaw can become misaligned as well, leading to jaw pain, headaches, and other issues.”

The idea behind orthotropics is that maintaining optimal oral posture and strengthening the jaw will enhance facial muscle tone, force the jaw to expand, and support straight teeth.

Many proponents of mewing combine the exercise with other orthotropic-informed concepts, such as chewing gum and eating tougher foods.

Orthotropics also uses palate expanders. “Palate expanders are an orthodontic appliance that gradually widens your palate, or upper jaw, over time with control,” explains?Jaclyn Tomsic, MD, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon based in Cleveland. “They are medical grade and should only be applied by a licensed dental professional, such as an orthodontist. The application of this appliance by anyone other than a licensed dental professional is not recommended and can cause irreversible damage.”

How to Mew

The defining aspect of mewing is a specific tongue position, Kahng explains, which people should maintain at all times, even when drinking liquids. While most people rest their tongues on the bottom of their mouth, mewing requires the tongue to rest flush with the top of the mouth instead. This may take some time, but proponents say it eventually becomes second nature.

Here is a typical mewing exercise:

  1. Close your mouth, including the lips, so that your teeth are touching and your lips are together.
  2. Relax your tongue completely.
  3. Place the body of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, with the tip of your tongue near the back of the upper front teeth.
  4. Maintain this posture for as long as possible and repeat regularly.

Although some people claim to see results within weeks, others say it takes months or even years. Scott Cardall, DMD, owner of Orem Orthodontics in Utah, says a scientific study would be necessary to assess how many hours it would take to see results — if any were achievable — and?no such objective research exists.

“Hypothetically, if facial changes are possible to some mild degree with mewing, it would likely require significantly more time than the few minutes a day that most seem to engage in it,” Dr. Cardall says.

How Mewing Works

Dr. Chinitz, Dr. Tomsic, and?Mitchell Levine, DMD, president of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and associate professor of orthodontics at St. Louis University in Missouri, suggest that there is no reliable evidence to support claims that mewing is effective.

Dr. Levine says there is likewise little research on how oral posture generally affects health, but he, Chinitz, Tomsic, and Kahng say certain aspects of the orthotropics concept do have merit.

“Any changes to oral posture can impact the mouth,” Chinitz says.

For example, if the tongue is constantly pushing forward — a phenomenon known as tongue thrust — rather than resting on the palate, Chinitz says it could cause the teeth to protrude slightly. And if the teeth are constantly grinding or clenching rather than resting slightly apart, they may wear down.

Jaw size and placement can also affect health, Tomsic, Chinitz, and Levine say.

“In a patient who has a small upper or lower jaw, there is less room for the tongue to sit comfortably within the oral cavity, thus applying unnatural pressure on the teeth and bone; if the discrepancy is significant, this can lead to teeth movement and difficulty breathing and sleep apnea due to decreased space in the mouth and throat,” says Tomsic.

Mewing practitioners say that, aside from aesthetics, mewing can:

However, they emphasize that issues like breathing difficulties and irregular tongue, teeth, and jaw placement are complex. Moreover, Levine says some problems, such as sleep apnea, can involve multiple nonanatomic factors and may even be dangerous if not properly addressed. If you have concerns, Tomsic, Levine, and Chinitz advise seeking help from a qualified professional.

Does Mewing Work?

Simply put, it’s not clear whether mewing actually works. Echoing the?American Association of Orthodontists, Levine, Chinitz, and Tomsic reiterate there has yet to be any objective, reliable scientific studies on mewing to back up the anecdotal reports.

Tongue, teeth, and jaw placement can affect health and appearance, but changes to these structures must happen either while a child is developing or using advanced methods, such as braces or corrective surgery. Palate expanders can also help to widen a narrow upper palate during development, Chinitz and Tomsic say, but these are usually only effective in people up to 15 years old. Tongue pressure alone, they say, would not yield similar results, especially once the mouth is fully formed.

Chinitz says that results from mewing would be “nearly impossible to actually achieve.”

“Research shows that a minimum of six hours per day of force on teeth is required for them to change position. And that is only to affect the smallest amount of change. Even at 12 hours per day, change is minimal and would relapse back to its original position when the force is removed,” Chinitz says. “This would mean mewing more than would be likely possible during any given day. Additionally, the forces applied by mewing are not strong enough to get true palatal expansion, meaning any and all effects would be on the teeth rather than to the jawline or bone.”

He says the concept may work during very early childhood before the sutures within the bony structures of the mouth have fused. But it would only influence the upper jaw. In the lower jaw, he says, bones are fused at birth and can’t be altered or expanded without surgery.

“There is no evidence to suggest that mewing can actually change facial shape,” he says.

Cardall agrees, saying many of the Mews’ hypotheses are based on concepts with some validity in development and biology. “However, all concepts must ultimately pass through the refiner’s fire of scientific study,” he says. “The concept of mewing, as well as the other concepts of John Mew, have not passed these tests.”

Mewing Before and After: Potential Results to Expect

The dramatic before-and-after posts you’ll find online are more likely clever deceptions than evidence of mewing’s merit, Cardall cautions. Several debunking videos demonstrate that many of these images use strategic makeup, angles, lighting, and editing techniques to trick the eye and make the jaw look more defined. Weight loss can also change facial contours, as can puberty, according to?Acta Stomatologica Croatica.

“It is doubtful that mewing in any amount could produce the types of results that are popularly claimed, such as developing a significantly different jawline,” Cardall says.

Consistent use of any facial muscles could cause them to strengthen and become more prominent, he explains. But the results — if any — would be slight.

Mewing Health Risks

Although mewing is unlikely to produce much benefit, it probably won’t hurt, Cardall says. Yet he and Tomsic say that overuse of the facial muscles and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) could produce adverse effects, such as:

  • fatigue
  • pain
  • dysfunction

Tomsic says it may also worsen TMJ pain or dysfunction.

If mewing were successful in repositioning or reshaping the jaws, Chinitz says it could cause the jaws and teeth to become misaligned. That could contribute to complications like bite issues, loose or chipped teeth, gum recession, and jaw pain.

Experts also note that DIY techniques aren’t a substitute for medical care and that issues like sleep apnea, jaw misalignment, and breathing and swallowing difficulties warrant professional attention.

“Mewing is an example of a common phenomenon found in many areas, but especially in medicine — a promised ‘easy fix’ to a difficult problem,” Cardall says.

Takeaway

Mewing’s proponents claim it can drastically improve a person’s appearance and health without surgery or traditional orthodontic treatments. Experts say the theory behind it has some merit and that the technique may benefit children whose jaws are still developing. However, it is not scientifically proven, and there is no evidence that it works, especially in adults.

“The concept of ‘mewing’ is merely a viral internet trend with no scientific background, and I do not advocate its practice,” says Tomsic. “I do, however, believe that, in the right hands, appropriate and successful changes to one’s facial shape can be done.”

If you have concerns about your jaw appearance, alignment, or functionality or any other oral or respiratory health issue, see a qualified healthcare provider for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Common Questions & Answers

How do you do mewing?
Mewing involves resting the tongue at the palate, or top of the mouth, rather than at the bottom. The lips should be touching and the teeth closed or slightly apart.
Can mewing reshape your face?
Although proponents of mewing say the practice can produce a more chiseled jawline and straighter teeth, most experts say it is unlikely to make a significant difference.
Is there research on mewing?
There have yet to be any credible, objective scientific studies on mewing. So far, there’s only anecdotal evidence of its benefits. There has been some research on the effects of “oral posture,” or the position of the teeth, jaw, and tongue.
How long should I do mewing in a day?
Some mewing practitioners claim to achieve results with a few minutes of practice daily, but mewing’s originators say doing it all day is the best way to achieve results.
How do I know if I’m mewing correctly?
In a proper mewing tongue position, the entire tongue (including the back) is suctioned against the top of the mouth, with the tip of the tongue resting just behind — but not touching — the teeth. Some practitioners suggest saying the word “sing” and noting the position of your tongue on the “ng.” Try to replicate this with your mouth closed.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

Everyday Health follows strict sourcing guidelines to ensure the accuracy of its content, outlined in our editorial policy. We use only trustworthy sources, including peer-reviewed studies, board-certified medical experts, patients with lived experience, and information from top institutions.

Sources

  1. Lee UK et al. Mewing: Social Media’s Alternative to Orthognathic Surgery?
    Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. September 2019.
  2. Does Mewing Actually Reshape Your Jaw? American Association of Orthodontists. January 17, 2024.
  3. Milos D et al. Craniofacial Growth in Adolescence and Its Influence on the Mandibular Incisor Crowding. Acta Stomatologica Croatica. March 2021.
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