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What on earth is mewing and can it really give you the perfect jawline

The mewing technique is supposedly a model's secret trick and has more than 10 billion views on TikTok. But is it legit?

Recently, at the wedding of a close friend, I overheard her say something intriguing to the groom during their post-ceremony photo session. “Tongue up, buttercup,” she whispered right before the cameras flashed. “These photos are forever.”

Later, I asked her what she meant. “Oh, I learned this trick from a photographer ages ago,” she laughed. “If you feel like you have a sagging chin, you just need to strengthen your tongue against the roof of your mouth. It makes a huge difference in a profile shot, so during the wedding—when so many photos were going to be of us looking at each other—I would remind us both to do it.”

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably come across how-tos and tutorials showcasing this same trick. Officially known as “mewing”, the term has racked up nearly 10 billion views on Tiktok alone. Proponents claim it’s the secret to achieving a snatched jawline without injections, lasers, or surgery. And, they say that with regular practice, mewing can even transform your profile from saggy to svelte—not just for selfies, but forever.

Admittedly, the before-and-afters are impressive. But can mewing really change the shape of your jaw long-term? And, most importantly, is the practice even safe? Here’s what the experts say.

Mew beginnings

Despite its recent popularity amidst influencers, mewing isn’t really new—as my friend mentioned, photographers have long been recommending the technique to self-conscious subjects, and there’s no doubt that actresses have been touching their tongues to the roofs of their mouths on the red carpet long before many of today’s content creators were born. In fact, the practice of mewing can be actually traced back half a century.

“The term is named after the British orthodontist John Mew,” explains Dr. Peter Lee of Wave Plastic Surgery. “Mew popularized this technique in the 1970s as part of his larger heterodox orthodontic practice, which he called orthotropics; it was designed to gradually alter the shape of the face and jaw using a system of orthodontic appliances and facial exercises.”

Image Sourced: Pexels

Dr. Mew—who is still alive, by the way—believes that in recent history, human jaws have become weak. “The idea is that a diet replete with soft foods and an increased tendency of mouth breathing due to chronic inflammation in our sinuses has led the jaws of humans to shrink over generations,” explains Lee.

Essentially, mewing was designed to help force the jaw to grow larger so that teeth could become straighter and better aligned, facial proportions could become more aesthetically pleasing, and breathing through the nose could become easier. “Mewing has some interesting claims, including creating the look of a more chiseled jaw and even correcting orthodontic issues such as crooked teeth,” cosmetic dentist Dr. Jon Marashi explains. “It’s done by placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth as opposed to the bottom of the mouth, where most people usually rest their tongue when their mouth is closed.”

To mew or not to mew?

Both Lee and Marashi are quick to point out that the practice of mewing is not scientifically backed and the overall practice of orthotropics that Mew developed is controversial at best. Dr. Mew isn’t licensed to practice in the United Kingdom anymore, and in a recent New York Times profile on him, many prominent American orthodontists described both him and his work in rather unflattering terms.

“Mewing may be getting a lot of views on TikTok, but there is no legitimate evidence that suggests mewing changes the facial shape in any long-term way,” Marashi says. And, although the testimonials may be compelling, Lee doesn’t advise making mewing a part of your daily self-care routine either: “There are presently no clinical studies to support mewing as a treatment for any of the conditions for which it has been prescribed.”

Image Sourced: Pexels

Still, mewing is not dangerous in any way—the only real downside is that it could cause facial discomfort or tension when done excessively. “I would not recommend mewing as a way to change the facial shape or treat any dental-related issues,” Marashi says. “That said, placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth might result in a more flattering photo—and there’s no harm in getting a great selfie. Just don’t count on mewing to create any lasting effects.”

A sharper jawline

For those seeking a taut jawline that lasts longer than the time it takes to snap a pic, there are, of course, a multitude of other options. “I recommend considering evidence-based approaches,” says Dr. Ali Shahbaz a dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology Lamar Central. “Consult with a board certified dermatologist, maxillofacial specialist, or plastic surgeon who can provide personalized advice based on your unique facial features and goals. Always prioritize consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to ensure safe and effective methods tailored to your individual needs.”

Dr. Marina Gonchar, founder of orthodontics and aesthetic clinic Skin to Smile agrees, adding that’s it’s important to first identify the underlying cause of the perceived issue before embarking on any treatment course: “Is it a structural problem related to the jaw bone, a muscle problem related to underdeveloped or overdeveloped muscles of the face, a dental issue related to protruding teeth, or an aging issue related to skin laxity?” she says. “Each concern can have a variety of solutions ranging from skincare regimens, facial massages, lymphatic drainage massages, orthodontic treatment, injectables such as Botox and fillers, and even more drastic solutions such as plastic surgery.”

Or, it could simply come down to addressing your posture. “I am a strong believer that it is important from a functional perspective and that it indeed helps improve facial aesthetics,” explains Dr. Chrystle Cu, dentist and co-founder of Cocofloss. “In our culture of smartphones and desk jobs, many of us have forward neck posture; I encourage my patients to strive for proper neck posture, with their ears over their shoulders.”

And, if you really just want to mew, go ahead—just don’t expect to look like Bella Hadid in a few weeks. “It is very unlikely that repositioning your tongue a few minutes a day will have a significant change in your jaw structure permanently,” says Gonshar. “However, it’s a nice tip for taking photos and can be used in the moment to give the appearance of a more chiseled jaw.” Nothing wrong with that.

The original article can be found on Vogue US

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