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Updated on January 2, 2023
4 min read

What is Mewing?

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Mewing, also known as orthotropics, is an exercise that allegedly reshapes the face and corrects jaw-related issues. It primarily involves teaching yourself a new tongue placement.

While it was recently popularized by the internet, the idea behind mewing has been around for decades. It’s named after John Mew, an orthodontist who had strong opinions about tongue posture and orthotropics.1  

Proponents of the practice believe it can:

  • Restructure your face, especially the jawline
  • Correct speech impediments
  • Relieve pain in the jaw
  • Cure sleep apnea, sinusitis, and snoring

Medical experts debate the effectiveness of mewing, especially regarding face shape and structure.

How Does Mewing Work? Is It Effective?

The goal of mewing is to train the tongue to rest against the roof of the mouth until the new tongue posture feels natural and comfortable.

Supporters of mewing purport that changing your tongue position changes your face shape in a desirable way. They believe a combination of lifestyle and environmental factors have negatively affected the modern-day jawline. Practicing mewing is an effort to create a larger, more squared jaw while improving other aspects of health.

Practitioners of mewing, many of whom are not qualified to provide medical advice, have shared anecdotal reports of the technique’s effectiveness. 

However, there is no scientific evidence that the practice results in structural changes to the face or positive health benefits. No peer-reviewed studies of mewing’s benefits exist.

How to Mew: A Step-by-Step Guide

The do-it-yourself technique of mewing requires only a few simple steps, including:

  1. Close your mouth. Breathe through your nose.
  2. Ensure your teeth are touching but not clenching.
  3. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Focus on making it as flat as possible.
  4. Contract the muscles under your chin to push your tongue upward. Squeeze.
  5. Hold the posture as long as possible.
  6. Repeat throughout the day. Try to breathe through your nose at all times.

Mewing’s true believers recommend practicing the technique as often as possible until it becomes an automatic habit. However, even they will admit that if mewing is successful, it will take several months or years to see noticeable results. 

What Does Science Say About Mewing?

Science does not support the claims of proponents of mewing. There is no credible evidence that the practice makes your jaw stronger or changes the shape of your face. 

However, oropharyngeal exercises that resemble mewing have been proven to help people with sleep apnea and breathing problems.2 They can’t cure them, but they may improve their quality of life.

Medical professionals strongly caution against mewing as an alternative to evidence-based orthodontic or medical treatments. Some have expressed fears that the practice’s popularity may convince people to delay or opt-out of more effective treatments.3 

Is Mewing Safe? What are the Risks? 

Mewing is relatively safe. However, there are some risks connected to the practice. 

The most important thing to consider if you want to try mewing is whether or not it will negatively impact any existing medical concerns. You should never try to fix a medical condition, such as sleep apnea or breathing issues, with mewing without consulting your doctor.

This warning is less about the damage mewing could do and more about not addressing a potentially fatal problem with proven medical treatment. 

Some less severe side effects of mewing include:

  • Soreness — Mewing involves working jaw muscles that might not otherwise get much use. Soreness usually doesn’t indicate a serious problem, though it can cause discomfort.
  • Headaches — Many people report headaches when they first start mewing.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders – Some dentists caution against mewing to avoid developing TMJ.
  • Moving teeth — Since you’re attempting to expand your palate, mewing could potentially cause your teeth to feel loose. Incorrect mewing that involves pushing your tongue against your teeth could cause them to shift over time.
  • Psychological distress — If someone practices mewing without success or becomes obsessed with using the practice to alter their facial structure, it can cause stress and disappointment. 

If you’ve been mewing and are concerned about the side effects you’re experiencing, speak to your doctor for advice.

Alternative Treatment Options

The only guaranteed way to change the structure of your jawline is to undergo oral and maxillofacial surgery. The most popular surgeries for facial restructuring include:4

  • Corrective jaw surgery — A procedure that is sometimes recommended for people with malocclusion or a misaligned jaw.
  • Facelift — A procedure that removes and repositions skin. It creates a firmer, smoother look along the jawline and face.
  • Facial implants — Cosmetic implants that can reshape the jaw, chin, and cheeks.

You should always consult a medical doctor for treatment if you have breathing issues, jaw pain, or sleep apnea. If you want to correct a speech disorder, you may wish to explore speech therapy.

Summary

Mewing is a do-it-yourself technique that some believe can restructure your facial features and improve jaw-related issues. It involves training yourself to keep your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

There is no scientific evidence that mewing accomplishes what its proponents claim. Medical professionals advise caution when practicing mewing instead of seeking effective treatment. Always talk to your doctor if you’re interested in practicing mewing as a treatment.

Last updated on January 2, 2023
7 Sources Cited
Last updated on January 2, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Mew, J. “Tongue posture.” British Dental Journal, Springer Nature, 2008.
  2. Wang, W., et al. “Tongue Function: An Underrecognized Component in the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea with Mandibular Repositioning Appliance.” Canadian Respiratory Journal, National Library of Medicine, 2018.
  3. Lee, U., et al. “Mewing: Social Media’s Alternative to Orthognathic Surgery?” Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Elsevier Inc., 2019.
  4. “Cosmetic Surgery Procedures.” Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, 2022.
  5. “Carlson, C., et al. “The Effects of Tongue Position on Mandibular Muscle Activity.” Journal of Orofacial Pain, National Library of Medicine, 2013.
  6. Aihara, K., et al. “Measurement of Dyspnea in Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.” Sleep and Breathing, National Library of Medicine, 2013.
  7. Matsuo, K., et al. “Coordination of Mastication, Swallowing and Breathing.” Japanese Dental Science Review, National LIbrary of Medicine, 2009.
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