Mewing is a DIY tongue placement technique meant to restructure your jaw. This not-so-new craze is named after Dr. John Mew, a British orthodontist who was recently stripped of his credentials by the General Dental Council.
According to his followers, Dr. John Mew and his son Dr. Mike Mew are battling against mainstream orthodontic juggernauts who want to continue charging money for unnecessary surgeries, instead of subscribing to Dr. Mew’s natural treatment option, which he calls “orthotropics” instead of mewing.
According to his detractors, Dr. John Mew is a dangerous source of misinformation which is spreading across social media and YouTube, convincing normal folk that there is a science-based, non-invasive alternative to orthodontic surgery when that is not the case.
Mewing should not be a dangerous practice, unless you are opting for mewing over a necessary treatment. Orthodontic surgeries, however, may do more harm than good by traumatizing your existing jaw structure and dental material.
Let’s just say there are alternatives to both surgery and mewing.
Keep reading to learn more about how mewing is supposed to work, the purported benefits, and any potential risks. If you’re interested in personalized oral health care which prioritizes science, your unique situation, and avoiding invasive procedures, schedule an appointment with Rejuvenation Dentistry today.
How Mewing Works
Mewing is a technique that encourages proper tongue alignment to reposition the jaw — without surgery, additional tools, or medication. As you retrain your tongue’s resting position, your facial structure will change, particularly your jawline.
Does mewing change your jawline? According to supporters of mewing, yes, mewing can change your jawline. However, the primary evidence for this claim is anecdotal and often dubious.
While you’re training your tongue to position itself differently, your jawline should also reposition into a more desirable structure. Sources state that it takes years to really see results, but many on social media are claiming anecdotally that it only took months for them to notice a difference.
Some supporters of the practice also claim it relieves jaw pain and reduces snoring while asleep. Dr. John Mew claims that poor jaw posture leads to several health conditions, such as sleep apnea, speech disorders, swallowing problems, and sinus inflammation.
Note: Before and after images on social media, TikTok, and YouTube are not reliable sources of evidence. Photos can be doctored, or the angles and lighting can prove more flattering. Also, natural jawline restructuring is expected in adolescents — a considerable portion of mewing enthusiasts — with or without mewing.
Purported Benefits of Mewing
The primary benefit of mewing is a more defined jawline. Whether it’s insecure adolescents, involuntary celibates, mouth breathers, those who are anxious about going to a dentist’s office, or anyone who wants to change their facial features, mewing promises a conventionally attractive jawline at zero cost to you — unless you count the large amount of time spent.
Can mewing straighten teeth? Yes, according to mewing proponents, mewing can straighten teeth by restructuring the jaw. However, the scientific evidence that mewing can restructure the jaw is dubious at best. Besides, restructuring the jaw has just as much chance to worsen teeth alignment.
Below are other health problems which mewing is purported to treat:
- Jaw muscle pain
- Mouth breathing
- Crooked teeth
- Double chin
- Speech disorders
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Breathing problems
- Swallowing issues
Because mewing forces you to focus on your tongue position in relation to your breathing, mewing may actually help you transition from mouth breathing to nose breathing — which definitely has health benefits. Nasal breathing lowers your risk of sleep apnea and heart disease.
The Scientific Theory Behind Mewing
Here’s the best science to support mewing: this 2020 study which uses previous research from Dr. John Mew and others to show that light-but-constant pressure on facial bones can reshape those bones, leading to long-term restructuring.
A 2021 study concludes that forces like sucking in your cheeks may alter the structure of your teeth. If that pressure can change the structure inside your mouth, why not pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth?
Concerning another purported benefit, it makes intuitive sense that training your tongue posture would help with breathing problems and sleep apnea since the tongue is so often what obstructs your upper airways.
Also, remember there is a strong connection between the oral microbiome and whole-body health. Facial structure problems could cause mental health conditions, gut health issues, and much more. Read The Mouth-Body Connection for an in-depth look at how your whole body works together.
Dr. Mew himself posits 2 reasons his theories are not accepted by mainline orthodontists and researchers:
- It’s basically impossible to study the tongue’s position in a long-term study, rendering the peer review process of publishing scientific evidence unfeasible. Conventional scientists make the mistake of thinking that if something isn’t workable within the current mainstream scientific method, then it’s not worth considering at all.
- Orthodontists don’t consider retraining the tongue part of their job. Even if mainline science supported mewing, most would find it “tedious and unreliable.”
How to Mew
- Close your mouth. Relax.
- Place your bottom front teeth just behind your upper front teeth.
- Flatten your tongue against the roof of the mouth. You should feel your muscles working.
- Move the tip of the tongue behind your teeth without touching. Your tongue should be roughly in the position it goes to when you make an “n” or “ng” sound.
- Hold for as long as you can — or as long as you want to. Start with a short duration: 10-20 seconds. As you continue to mew, increase your duration to 30 seconds, then a minute, then longer and longer.
- Repeat this exercise multiple times a day for a few years. Get used to doing this exercise throughout the day. Hopefully, mewing will become natural after a short while.
Should your teeth touch when mewing? Yes, your teeth should gently touch while mewing. Don’t press your teeth hard against one another. Your bottom center teeth should lightly rest against the back of your front center teeth.
Are there any risks to mewing?
The main risk to mewing is employing this technique as a replacement for a research-based treatment that would have helped you more efficiently and more effectively.
Is mewing bad for you? By itself, mewing is harmless, but it is a time commitment. Generally, it takes years before you can expect to notice a change in your facial structure. In the years spent practicing mewing, the conditions you’re trying to correct may worsen as you avoid faster, proven treatment options.
If you do manage to significantly restructure your jaw, it could lead to health complications, such as:
- Misalignment of your teeth
- Altered bite
- TMJ pain
- Undesired change in face shape
Bottom Line for Mewing
The bottom line when it comes to mewing is that tongue training may actually help you focus and improve your breathing. Tongue repositioning may even restructure your jaw after many years of dedication. But mewing is not reliable, scientifically tested, or the most effective option.
Read about these mouth guards, including the DNA appliance, which can help restructure your oral cavity, reposition your tongue, and treat obstructive sleep apnea. And the DNA appliance is based on science!
Looking for holistic oral health solutions?
Dr. Gerry Curatola’s team at Rejuvenation Dentistry has decades of experience treating oral health problems with holistic, conservative solutions that are based on science but don’t kowtow to irrelevant axioms of conventional dentistry. (Namely, surgery should not be the first response to most conditions.)
Schedule an appointment with Rejuvenation Dentistry in New York as soon as you can, so we can form an individualized treatment plan, and you can get on with your healthy life.
- Lee, U. K., Graves, L. L., & Friedlander, A. H. (2019). Mewing: Social Media’s Alternative to Orthognathic Surgery?. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 77(9), 1743-1744. Full text: https://www.joms.org/article/S0278-2391(19)30349-0/fulltext
- Kahn, S., Ehrlich, P., Feldman, M., Sapolsky, R., & Wong, S. (2020). The jaw epidemic: Recognition, origins, cures, and prevention. BioScience, 70(9), 759-771. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7498344/
- Al Zubaidi, S. H., Alsultan, M. M., & Hasan, L. A. (2021). Finite element analysis of the stress released by buccinator muscle in the mandibular dental arch during sucking habits. Journal of Oral Biology and Craniofacial Research, 11(3), 430-434. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8164032/
- Mew, J. (2015). The influence of the tongue on dentofacial growth. The Angle Orthodontist, 85(4), 715-715. Full text: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8611756/
- Singh, G. D., Griffin, T. M., & Chandrashekhar, R. (2014). Biomimetic oral appliance therapy in adults with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Austin J Sleep Disord, 1(1), 5. Full text: https://vivos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/biomimetic-oral-appliance-therapy-in-adults-with-severe-obstructive-sleep-apnea-1.pdf
- Obisesan, O., Bryant, C., & Shah, A. (2022). When dental extractions go wrong: An overview of common complications and management. Primary Dental Journal, 11(3), 88-97. Abstract: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36073050/