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What Is Mewing?

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on April 09, 2021

The basic idea behind mewing is that you can change the shape of your jawline if you think about the placement of your tongue in your mouth. People also claim it can help with sleep apnea, sinusitis, and other conditions.

The ideas behind mewing come from the work of British orthodontist John Mew, who is now in his 90s. He and his son, fellow orthodontist Michael Mew, promote a form of orthodontics they call “orthotropics” that focuses on “jaw posture” including retraining the position of the tongue. Britain’s General Dental Council recently stripped the elder Mew of his dental license.

John and Michael Mew did not coin the term “mewing.” It stems from an online movement among people who wanted to change the appearance of their jawlines using ideas from orthotropics, which was originally intended mostly for young children whose jaws are still growing.

How Do You Do It?

Instructions vary, but the basics seem to be:

  • Close your lips.
  • Move your jaw so that your front bottom teeth are just behind your front upper teeth.
  • Cover the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
  • Place the tip of your tongue right behind your front teeth without touching.

Some suggest that you can find the right position if you try to make the “ng” sound, as in “thing” or “wing.” Others suggest you focus on breathing out of your nose instead of your mouth.

Does It Work?

There is no serious research that suggests mewing can change the shape of your jawline or help with other issues. Experts say it’s unlikely you’ll see any permanent change.

Dentists and orthodontists sometimes use techniques with concepts similar to the ones in mewing to treat sleep apnea and misaligned teeth, but it’s one part of a structured and proven treatment plan. They also talk to people about possible risks and benefits.

Are There Risks?

Yes. Your jawline is part of a complex machine. You can’t change it without affecting many other parts.

Even if you were to succeed in changing your jawline or the placement of your lower jaw for any length of time, it could lead to other problems that might include:

  • Misalignment of teeth
  • Misalignment of upper and lower jaw
  • Pain or dysfunction at the hinge of your jaw (TMJ pain)
  • Loose or chipped teeth (from misalignment or pressure)

It’s best to attempt any changes in the way you use your jaw under the guidance of dentist or orthodontist. Talk to them before you try anything new.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Elise Ashpole, DMD, Atlanta, Georgia.

Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: “Mewing: Social Media's Alternative to Orthognathic Surgery?”

The New York Times: “How Two British Orthodontists Became Celebrities to Incels.”

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