What Is Mewing?

A type of tongue posture that some say can reshape the face

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Mewing is a technique in which the tongue is placed on the roof of the mouth in an effort to make the jaw bigger and more square. This may be done for aesthetic reasons and/or to correct orthodontic, breathing, and facial structural issues.

The "how to mew" technique has received a lot of attention on social media. However, oral and maxillofacial surgery experts warn there’s little evidence to support claims that it can actually change your jaw structure and appearance, or improve your health.

This article explains what mewing is and presents some of the research findings on jaw development and related health issues, like sleep apnea. It also discusses why it's important to see a healthcare provider for facial structure concerns and avoid potential disinformation about mewing.

Will Mewing Change Your Face?

Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

How to Mew

Rather than resting their tongues on the bottom of their mouths, as people naturally do, those who practice mewing rest their tongues on the roof of their mouths. Their lips are together, and their teeth are either touching or close together.

Over time, people who practice mewing train their bodies to naturally return to this position.

They refer to this as proper tongue posture.

Theory of How Mewing Works

According to English orthodontists Dr. John Mew, who originated this technique in the 1970s, and Dr. Mike Mew, his son and the person perhaps best know for the approach, people today have smaller jaws than our ancestors. They credit this environmental and lifestyle factors, like allergies that lead to mouth breathing and ready access to food that’s soft and easy to chew.

A smaller jaw leaves teeth crowded, and thus crooked. It also contributes to a less aesthetically pleasing face, the Mews say.

The two argue that practicing mewing can fix this by realigning the teeth and making the jaw larger, stronger, and more squared.

They also say that this change in tongue position can help correct a myriad of issues, including sleep apnea.

Is Mewing Really Effective?

There’s little objective evidence that mewing will change your face. In addition, there has been no credible, peer-reviewed study about the effects of mewing.

John Mew has said that his own children are evidence. His daughter, fed with soft foods until she was a 4-year-old and not taught mewing, had crooked teeth and poor facial alignment. Mike Mew, on the other hand, was taught mewing and to eat rough foods, and has a square, muscular jaw.

All of that said, there is some truth to the issues that the Mews raise. Research shows that human jaws are in fact getting smaller. This has been linked with health issues including crooked teeth, mouth breathing, and sleep apnea.

Researchers have indeed linked “oral posture”—the position of the teeth and tongue—to jaw development. The solutions that researchers propose are not unlike those for which the Mews advocate.

Researchers say that eating tougher foods—particularly in childhood—can help to develop the jaw, as can chewing gum. They also advise breathing and swallowing exercises to promote improved jaw development in children.

The American Association of Orthodontists notes that proper tongue alignment could alter your facial structure, but mewing itself is not the answer. It’s best to talk to a healthcare provider rather than attempting to solve the issue yourself.

Mewing Controversy

Although most orthodontists focus on issues like straightening teeth or correcting an overbite, John Mew was more focused on appearance. He started treating patients using mewing and palate expanders.

This is considered a rejection of more traditional orthodontic techniques like braces.

But that is not where the controversy ends. Mewing is connected to the incel (or involuntary celibate) movement. The movement is an internet phenomenon of men who blame women and society for the fact that they are not sexually active.

Many in the incel movement became fascinated with mewing when a video of Mike Mew speaking was posted on an incel message board in 2014. Mew began engaging with people on the message board, with many of the individuals hoping to overcome their celibate status by improving their face.

Since then, the concept of mewing has been loosely associated with the incel movement. However, the practice has gained attention in more mainstream areas of the internet, with some experts arguing that concepts attached to mewing deserve more research attention.

The Mews are both associated with the London School of Facial Orthotropics, which John Mew founded. John Mew was stripped of his license, in part because of controversy surrounding mewing. The British Orthodontic Society also expelled Mike Mew.

A Word From Verywell

Mewing has become popular among people who want to improve their respiratory and orthodontic health, or seek to have a more prominent jaw. While there is some research evidence for issues it seeks to address (such as human jaws becoming smaller), it remains an unproven technique. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about mewing.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is hard mewing?

    Hard mewing is the practice of mewing with force against the palate. Like tongue chewing (the practice of using your tongue rather than teeth to chew food), it remains an unproven technique.

  • Can mewing damage teeth?

    Many experts feel mewing is unlikely to cause harm to teeth. Whether it effective and worth trying at all is debated, however. The American Association of Orthodontists says it won't deliver the results that professional care does.

  • Does mouth breathing change your face?

    Persistent mouth breathing can potentially change certain areas of a person's face, or more specifically, their jawline. A small study that examined 50 children found that the children with a mouth-breathing habit developed minor changes in their facial profile.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. London School of Facial Orthotropics. Myofunctional approaches

  3. Brennan, William. How two British orthodontists became celebrities to incels. The New York Times.

  4. Kahn S, Ehrlich P, Feldman M, et. al. The jaw epidemic: Recognition, origins, cures, and preventionBioScience. 2020;70(9):759–771. doi:10.1093/biosci/biaa073

  5. Hadhazy, Adam. A hidden epidemic of shrinking jaws is behind many orthodontic and health issues, Stanford researchers say. Stanford News.

  6. American Association of Orthodontists. Current Internet Trend You Should Skip.

  7. Elliott, M. The upper airway: Cross-disciplinary conversations. British Columbia Medical Journal. Vol. 63, No. 3, April 2021, Pages 142-143.

  8. Basheer B, Hegde KS, Bhat SS, Umar D, Baroudi K. Influence of mouth breathing on the dentofacial growth of children: a cephalometric studyJ Int Oral Health. 2014;6(6):50-55. PMID:25628484

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.