What Is Mewing? Does It Really Work?

man with tone jawline

Have you ever seen those claims about certain exercises to tone your neck or jawline? Or maybe even devices you can wear, that supposedly reshape your neck to get rid of that annoying double chin? “Mewing” is one recent and popular example that’s taken the internet by storm. But do mewing jawline exercises really work?

What Is Mewing?

While the theory of oral and facial reshaping exercises isn’t new, “Mewing” is fairly recent.[1] The toning concept was made popular by British orthodontist, Dr. Mike Mew. Hence the term “mewing.”

But what is mewing? Jawline, tongue, and neck toning through muscular retraining. At least supposedly. It’s based on a particular position of the tongue in relation to other parts of the mouth, and it’s thought to help tone and tighten the tissues immediately surrounding it. As with any other area-specific exercise, it has to be done repeatedly in order for it to (theoretically) make a difference in the way your body looks.

Does Mewing Work Or Is It An Internet Craze? 

While “mewing” in and of itself hasn’t been around all of that long, facial exercises are nothing new. Some of them have been around for over 100 years. But mewing is a specific type of oral exercise that is meant to address particular soft tissues in and around the mouth, specifically for the jawline and facial profile.

Mewing tends to be popular with people who have a double chin, a short jaw, or sagginess under their jawline that interferes with a defined facial profile.

Mewing isn’t exactly an internet craze, but more of an orthognathic concept. Orthognathics is the term we use in dentistry to describe oral and facial growth, positioning, and development.[2] Usually, orthognathic therapy is most applicable to children whose mouths are still growing and forming. By intercepting those growth patterns during active development—whether through appliances, oral exercises, or both—orthodontic experts can facilitate healthier growth patterns and function within the bones themselves.

The difference is that with mewing, jawline development is usually complete because it tends to be adults using the technique instead of children. So, in this sense, we’re not changing growth patterns, we’re addressing things like muscle tone.

While it’s not an internet fad, the internet is what has enabled mewing to have a strong social media presence and gain better popularity than oral exercises in decades past.

But here’s the biggest problem: as with any exercise, it has to be done repeatedly and correctly for months or years on end before it ever makes a noticeable difference. And unfortunately with mewing, jawline or facial shape changes may not actually happen at all.

Don't Believe The Mewing Before And After Pictures On Social Media  

If you want to know if mewing works, the first thing you’re probably going to want to see is actual before and after pictures of mewing jawlines. The side-by-side profiles supposedly compare pre-mewing to post-mewing results.

Again, the problem with mewing is that it physically requires hundreds of hours, months, or years to actually make a difference in the appearance of your soft facial tissues. The chances of you doing it on your own without any type of professional intervention is slim to none.

When you’re looking at before-and-after pictures of mewing on the internet, you’ll need to consider things like lighting, shadows, weight loss/gain, tongue positioning during the photo, and the tilt or position of their jaw. You could essentially take a side-by-side photo within five seconds of just repositioning your jaw further forward or backward, and your profile would already look noticeably different.

Unless the comparison photographs are taken by a dental professional or as part of a clinical study, it’s best to be a little bit skeptical of what you’re actually seeing.

Why Are People Doing This?

Some of us aren’t all that thrilled with the contour or shape of our jawlines. AKA our facial profile. AKA our double chin or “short” jaw. Instead of something extreme like orthognathic surgery on your jaw, exercise is way less invasive—right? Since mewing is something you can learn how to do on the internet, and it’s basically free, most people try it because of the whole “what’s it going to hurt” train of thought.

People who mew regularly are typically concerned with having excess tissues under their jawline, a recessed jaw, or a double chin. The idea is that they want to help tone those tissues through facial exercise. That way they can reduce sagging and create a slimmer-looking profile. If exercises help other parts of the body, why not try them on your face, too? Right?

While oral health therapies are frequently prescribed by orthodontic specialists, mewing tends to be one that people find and do on their own because of internet research. That doesn’t necessarily make it wrong. But it does mean you might put tons of hours and effort into a process that doesn’t necessarily work for what you need. Talk with an orthodontic specialist about medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How To Mew

Mewing is essentially positioning your mouth in a certain way and holding that position for an extended period of time.

Placing your mouth at the appropriate resting position: which is your lips together but the teeth not touching (you never want to be “resting” with your teeth clenched together.)

Next—and most importantly—mewing requires that you place your entire tongue completely against the roof of your mouth, with the tip of your tongue right behind your teeth but not actually touching them. Even the furthest back part of your tongue should be pressing against your palate (roof of the mouth.) If you’re having trouble getting your tongue into this position, mewing experts recommend trying to make the “ng” sound. This step draws your tongue up into the palate. Now leave it there. Ironically if you’re mewing correctly, your jaw might actually feel like it’s being pulled back a little bit, creating a double chin. It seems counterintuitive, but remember, you’re doing these “exercises” in the privacy of your own home and not while you’re hanging out around other people. Unless you just don’t care about that type of thing.  

Theoretically, in order for mewing to work, you need to hold this tongue and jaw position for several minutes and repeat it consistently throughout the day. You might find that you’re mewing for hours on end, to the point where it becomes second nature and you don’t even think about it.

Ideally, mewing shouldn’t be painful or uncomfortable. But for some people, it could predispose them to muscle pain in their jaws, temples, face, neck, etc. If you’re mewing for several days in a row and starting to develop headaches or muscle pain, you might be doing more harm than good. Realistically speaking, atypical muscle movements could induce conditions like TMJ disorder or other musculoskeletal symptoms.

Alternatives To Defining Face/Jawline

There are several options that can help you redefine your facial profile without trying to do DIY mewing for years. After all, mewing isn’t technically proven to work on everybody.

First, talk to your orthodontist about getting clinical treatment. Anything from routine braces and aligners to orthognathic surgery will be both safe and effective.[3] You’ll see proven results that are much more significant because there will be physical movement of the teeth and/or bone below your soft tissues (which is essentially what gives your face its shape.)

Second, consider working with a cosmetic dentist who offers aesthetic injectables. Yes, I’m talking about things like Botox and dermal fillers. These injectable treatments provide semi-permanent results in little time (requiring zero exercises) to help you get a feel for what’s possible before exploring options like surgery. If you don’t mind getting your injectables touched up a few times a year, you might be able to avoid surgery or mewing altogether. Cryotherapy, laser treatments, and even microneedling may be worth considering as well.

While mewing isn’t “proven” to be effective, orthodontic therapy, orthognathics, surgery, and cosmetic injectables are highly successful. They also save you way more time and energy. And since they say “time is money”, the tradeoff of paying for treatment may be worth the minor investment.

Final Word on Mewing

What is mewing? It’s a special type of facial/tongue/jaw exercise that was made popular by British orthodontist, Dr. Mike Mew. It’s one of the many different types of oral exercises we’ve seen in dentistry and orthodontics over the past century. Mewing (jawline exercise) involves positioning your tongue in a particular manner against the roof of your mouth with the hopes that it will help tone the jaw, chin, and neck tissues next to it.

The worst thing that can happen if you decide to start mewing is probably some muscular pain or headaches because of the secondary tension it creates. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try it, but you’ve probably got to “mew” for years before there’s a significant change in any of your facial characteristics. The time and effort may not be even worth trying.

Theoretically, the most effective orthognathic therapies out there are going to be used when your facial bones are still developing. As in during childhood and pre-pubescence. Once your mouth and skeletal anatomy are completely formed, there’s only so much you can do on a non-surgical basis to adjust the shape of your facial tissues surrounding the bone. Yes, you can tone them, but it won’t necessarily replace or eliminate surgical intervention. You’ll get faster results working with an orthodontist or cosmetic dentist than trying mewing on your own.

When in doubt, always talk to an orthodontic expert for medical advice before you try any type of DIY oral health treatment—including mewing.