Social Media Trend Of Mewing For Jaw Definition: Is It Good Or Bad?

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A strange new health trend is emerging on social media - ‘mewing'. Mewing is the practice of positioning your tongue against the roof of your mouth while keeping your teeth together to supposedly change the shape of your jaw and achieve a more defined facial structure.

This odd technique is blowing up on platforms like TikTok and YouTube. Mewing grew even more popular, after the release of the Netflix documentary ‘Open Wide' - a documentary, exploring the creators of mewing. So what exactly is the social media trend of ‘mewing' for jaw definition and why are people suddenly so interested in perfecting their jawlines?

The origin of the social media trend of ‘mewing' for jaw definition, can be traced back to British orthodontist Dr. John Mew who theorized that poor modern oral posture causes crooked teeth and weak jaws.

The basic premise is that by holding your tongue against the palate, you can guide natural facial growth and avoid issues like sleep apnea or TMJ disorders. His ideas gave rise to a movement of mewing supporters who believe the techniques can help them achieve straighter, more chiseled jaws like models and celebrities. 

As online influencers and everyday users share their mewing transformation photos, claiming proudly, “I've been mewing for 6 months and my jaw looks snatch!” mewing seems poised to become the latest self-improvement craze. But does repeatedly smooshing your tongue upwards actually do anything? Let’s evaluate the facts behind this peculiar social media fixation.

What is Mewing?

Mewing Procedure

So what is this social media trend of ‘mewing' for jaw definition? Mewing refers to training your tongue to rest against the roof of your mouth every time you swallow or while at rest. It involves keeping your teeth gently together, lips sealed, and tongue flat so that it molds against your hard palate.

The term was coined by Dr. Mike Mew, orthotropist and son of Dr. John Mew. He ardently promotes mewing as part of orthotropics - treatments focused on achieving straight teeth and a properly developed face through non-surgical means.

Dr. Mike claims that mewing can lessen sleep disorders, allow you to breathe better through your nose, and correct issues like an overbite or receding chin by guiding facial growth. 

His ideas are based on the theory that the modern soft diet has made us forget how to use our jaw muscles and place our tongues correctly, leading to problems like crowded teeth, impaired breathing, and skeletal abnormalities.

Mewing essentially aims to retrain your unconscious oral habits. Adherents assert that by mewing whenever you swallow or 24/7, you can create an attractive V-shaped facial profile characteristic of models and heartthrobs the likes of Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves.

How to Mew?

To start mewing, rest your entire tongue against the roof of your mouth, keeping the tip just behind your front teeth. Your tongue should broaden to fill out the whole palatal space so it lightly touches all sides.

Keep your teeth closed together but relaxed, lips sealed gently around your teeth. Swallow while holding this tongue posture. Over time, it may become an unconscious resting position.

You can also “hard mew” by vigorously pressing the entirety of your tongue upwards with more exaggerated swallowing motions.

Some hardcore mewers even attach weights to the tip of their tongue or tape their mouths shut at night (against medical advice) to hold this position. The devoted mew while working, watching Netflix, or quite literally every waking moment.

Why are People Mewing?

Believers in the social media trend of ‘mewing' for jaw definition claim they’ve achieved remarkable facial changes in months by persistent mewing.

Enthusiastic testimonials across YouTube and Reddit display apparent before-and-after shots with sharper jaw curves, more attractive side profiles, reduced double chins, alleviated crowding, and other dramatic effects. Devotees often spit out measurements like 19 to 21 mm or 95 to 103 facial degrees as proof of their shifting bone structure.

Aside from aesthetics, supporters also mew, seeking potential health benefits like improved breathing and alignment. However, the most cited motivator for taking up this strange practice is the desire for an Instagrammable jawline and slimming one’s facial fat.

Does Mewing Work?

The million-dollar question - can the way you position your tongue really reshape your facial skeleton? Is mewing medically legit or just another wellness fad boosted by internet fiction? There’s limited research explicitly on mewing itself.

Experts agree our bones can still change after childhood but the extent oral posture guides development remains up for debate.

According to Dr. John Mew, orthodontic headgear and jaw surgery are unnecessary because mewing harnesses your facial growth potential to straighten teeth and define structure.

However, most dentists and orthodontists reject these ideas due to a lack of evidence and best practices favoring conventional braces, retainers, or aligners over altering tongue carriage.

Potential Risks Of Mewing

Trying to mew could negatively impact certain groups. Those with disabilities, tongue ties, or oral sensitivities may injure themselves by forcing tongue positions. Mewing's obsessive focus on looks also risks driving body dysmorphic disorders or eating problems.

Taping mouths or blocking airways is extremely hazardous, as is attempting to reshape growing youth’s jaws based solely on online advice. Patients should consult actual medical doctors to design healthy treatment plans.

Alternatives to Mewing

While current science cannot definitively rule the social media trend of ‘mewing' for jaw definition as total quackery, non-surgical methods to improve bone deficiencies or symmetry issues remain controversial at best.

If you have misaligned teeth or jaw concerns, instead of latching onto internet fads, have an open discussion with your dentist. There are orthodontic options like clear aligners or retainers to safely straighten teeth under professional supervision.

For skeletal deformities, specialists may advise customized growth guidance or surgery once other growth options are exhausted.

Ultimately mewing lacks robust clinical testing, so patients should approach it with caution. The allure is understandable but don't risk harm without talking to experts. If trying minor tongue posture adjustments alongside other treatments, take gradual steps only as recommended by your providers.

Conclusion

Social media always spawns new wellness phenomena, tapping into people's hopes and insecurities with magical fixes. In recent years, achieving picture-perfect bone structure has become an obsession fueling body-hacking movements like mewing.

Mewing promises naturally chiseling ideal jawlines by changing your unconscious tongue positioning. But does re-training your oral posture truly reshape your facial structure? science has yet to conclusively decide.

What is definitively dangerous are the lengths some mewing extremists take, like taping their jaw shut at night or grinding weights on their tongues, against all medical guidance.

And while mewing may offer ancillary benefits like proper tongue carriage for ideal growth or temporarily tightening facial skin, relying solely on unsupported online advice risks serious harm, especially for those with pre-existing conditions. Patients need customized health plans designed by actual orthodontists, dentists, and surgeons. There are no substitutions for clinical expertise.

Should internet health trends be better regulated to protect patients from potential unsupported claims or harm? Why or why not?

References

  • Seo YJ, et al. (2014). Treatment and retention of relapsed anterior open-bite with low tongue posture and tongue-tie: A 10-year follow-up.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4130916/
  • Te Veldhuis E.C., Te Veldhuis A.H., Bramer W.M., Wolvius E.B., Koudstaal M.J. The effect of orthognathic surgery on the temporomandibular joint and oral function: A systematic review. Int. J. Oral Maxillofac. Surg. 2017;46:554–563. doi: 10.1016/j.ijom.2017.01.004.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28174061/

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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