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Mewing May Be Trendy, But It Has No Scientific Basis

The controversial online craze promises to give you a chiseled jawline and improve your health, but experts remain skeptical.

By Max Bennett
Mar 22, 2024 1:00 PMMar 26, 2024 2:36 PM
Extreme close-up shot of young woman with perfect skin strokes her jaw line and chin on beige background | Smooth skin and beauty care commercial concept
(Credit: Pavel_dp/Shutterstock)


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It's hard to keep up with the latest fads and wellness crazes. But a new online trend —mewing — is sweeping social media and attracting a lot of attention.

More than just a new slang term, "mewing" describes a quick-fix method for facial reconstruction, meant to make an individual's jawline look tighter and more sculpted, among other benefits. The phenomenon has surged on social media platforms like TikTok, where influencers post how-to videos that attract hundreds of millions of views.

Yet despite mewing's popularity and its purported benefits as a panacea to a host of modern woes, it's not quite the silver bullet that its proponents claim: Oral surgeons and dental experts caution that there's no evidence to support claims that it can reshape jaw structure and appearance or improve sleep and breathing.

"Social media is a powerful tool for informing the public in many subject areas, including mewing, but it is not regulated by experts," said Myron Guymon, president of the American Association of Orthodontists, in a press release. "Unfortunately, many members of the public quickly fall prey to theories that have not been scientifically tested."

What Does Mewing Mean?

Before we begin, just what is mewing, and why has it taken the internet by storm in recent years? If you’ve ever wanted to correct a misaligned jaw, then conventional wisdom would point you toward an orthodontist.   

Read More: TikTok's Algorithm and How It Affects Your Viewing Experience

But, to the mewing enthusiast, a transformational change can be made simply by changing how their tongue is positioned in their mouth: pressed to the roof, accompanied by nose breathing. Despite the hype surrounding mewing, there's no research supporting it as an alternative treatment to orthodontics or jaw surgery, according to a 2019 paper published in the Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. 

John Mew, an English orthodontist, created the process of mewing and named the technique after himself. His son, Michael Mew, has popularized it today. The Mews are proponents of orthotropic intervention, which treats misaligned bites and jaws by changing the posture of both the mouth and the head.

The Mews also assert that Western society’s consumption of increasingly soft foods, as well as the rise in allergies, have led to underdeveloped jaws and increased mouth breathing compared to our ancestors. Mewing, which involves proper tongue posture and breathing through the nose, is an attempt to rectify this discrepancy and restore our faces to their former chiseled glory. 

How Mewing Claims to Work  

To engage in mewing, one must simply close their mouth and attempt to lay the majority of their tongue against the roof of the mouth. The tip of one’s tongue should be barely touching the front teeth.

Depending on which internet source one derives instructions from, the tongue may be held in place by either suction, achieved by swallowing to generate a partial vacuum, or by pure muscle power. The latter is termed as “hard mewing.” 

Read More: What’s the Deal with Generation TikTok?

Mewing can be performed in short bursts of around 20 seconds to properly engage the jaw muscles, but others advocate for a 24/7 lifestyle change. Unless talking or eating, which should be done with an emphasis on chewing the food for longer to engage the muscles, mewing proponents say that one ought to be always practicing. (Just maybe not when they're out in public.)

The Mewing Controversy

With these simple tenets in mind, it’s no wonder that the recommendations soon entered the mainstream. Rather than receiving expensive braces or undergoing invasive surgery, believers in the practice were promised a more defined jawline, so long as they remained dedicated to the habit. As mewing became more prominent, so too did claims that it could cure other ailments like speech disorders and even sinusitis. 

Of course, mewing has another side beyond the purported health benefits. Some internet communities view mewing, among other unorthodox beauty hacks, as a key component of “looksmaxxing,” defined as the quest to become more conventionally attractive. That pursuit is popular among internet subcultures — and mainly among teen boys, as reported by the New York Times — that hold dogmatic and extremist beliefs regarding attractiveness and dating. 

Read More: This Is Why the Inverted Filter on TikTok Makes Your Face Look Weird

Beyond mewing, looksmaxxing may entail a cocktail of other practices, such as a range of plastic surgeries or the harmful act of bone smashing, wherein one repeatedly whacks their face with a hard object in an attempt to realign the bone structure. If this sounds unpleasant and unnecessary, it’s because it is, with experts cautioning against any sort of attempts. 

What Does Science Say About Mewing?

With all of these unsavory associations in mind, does mewing have any sort of validity? As it turns out, the Mews might be partially right about the impact tongue posture has on facial development. According to a 2020 study published in BioScience, jawlines have been shrinking in the past few decades. The researchers behind the study recommended chewing harder foods, as well as swallowing and breathing exercises, to compensate. 

That doesn't mean, however, that mewing's purported benefits aren't distorted: The notion that simply pressing your tongue up to the roof of your mouth will transform your face is unfounded and can result in unforeseen harm, like disrupting tooth alignment or worsening existing speech issues and bite problems — requiring additional treatment to fix. John Mew lost his dental license due to the controversy surrounding mewing, and Michael Mew was ousted from the British Orthodontic Society for similar reasons. 

Notably, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) also does not support the practice as a de facto solution. If you're interested in repositioning your jaw, the AAO writes, your best bet is still consulting with a licensed orthodontist.

Read More: Exploring the Science of Cleft Lip and Palate

“While proper tongue posture plays a role in oral health and development, mewing oversimplifies the complexities of facial structure," said Guymon. "There's no scientific evidence to support its claims of reshaping the jawline, and the potential risks outweigh any unproven benefits.” 

This article is not offering medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only.

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Our writers at Discovermagazine.com use peer-reviewed studies and high-quality sources for our articles, and our editors review for scientific accuracy and editorial standards. Review the sources used below for this article:

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