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  • Gustavo Richards
    Gustavo Richards

    Does Mewing Actually Work?

    You've probably heard the term "mewing" floating around social media or mentioned in various health and wellness forums. This trend has ignited a wildfire of curiosity, especially among those keen to improve their facial aesthetics. But does mewing actually work? Before you jump on the bandwagon, it's crucial to understand what mewing is, its origin, and the science—or lack thereof—behind it.

    The mewing phenomenon has particularly gained traction among young adults and teens who are eager to sharpen their jawlines and achieve more defined facial features. It's like a free, DIY cosmetic intervention—only it involves a very natural tool: your tongue.

    Mewing has developed into something of a cultural phenomenon, and the internet is full of tutorials, testimonies, and even before-and-after photos. Yet the medical community remains somewhat divided on the effectiveness of this practice.

    In this article, we'll delve into the origins, science, and efficacy of mewing to give you a comprehensive understanding. We'll also explore what the experts have to say, and examine the current state of scientific research on the topic.

    So, sit back, relax, and keep that tongue firmly on the roof of your mouth (or maybe not?) as we explore the question: does mewing actually work?

    Let's dig in!

    What Exactly is Mewing?

    Mewing is a practice that involves the correct positioning of the tongue against the roof of the mouth. While it may sound simple, the idea is that this constant posture could lead to gradual changes in your facial structure over time. To many, it promises a more aesthetic and functional transformation—think sharper jawline, better breathing, and improved posture.

    The term "mewing" is derived from Dr. John Mew, a British orthodontist who propagated the concept. Essentially, mewing is a part of orthotropics—a field that studies the growth and positioning of the face and jaws. When practiced diligently, proponents claim that it can lead to noticeable improvements in facial symmetry and structure.

    So, what's the catch? Mewing is often promoted as a practice that anyone can adopt easily. Just press your entire tongue (including the back third) against the roof of your mouth, and voila! Yet, like anything that sounds too good to be true, there are caveats and complexities.

    Firstly, there's the question of technique. Simply pressing your tongue against your palate isn't enough; there's a specific posture and method to it. Incorrect mewing can not only be ineffective but also potentially harmful.

    Then comes the issue of commitment. Mewing requires consistent practice. You can't just do it for a week and expect miraculous results. Most of the apparent success stories come from individuals who have been practicing it for months or even years.

    So, does mewing actually work? To adequately address this, we'll need to delve into its history, scrutinize scientific studies, and hear what the experts have to say. Read on!

    The Man Behind the Trend: Dr. John Mew

    When it comes to the origins of mewing, all roads lead to Dr. John Mew. A British orthodontist and the founder of orthotropics, Dr. Mew introduced this practice as a holistic approach to oral and facial health. But who exactly is this man, and why should we listen to him?

    Dr. Mew gained recognition for challenging conventional orthodontic wisdom, which often involves braces and even surgical interventions. Instead, he argued for natural growth guidance through correct tongue posture, advocating that many jaw and tooth alignment issues could be prevented or improved through orthotropic principles.

    His theories haven't been without controversy. The orthodontic community is divided over Dr. Mew's claims, and he has even faced professional scrutiny for his unconventional approach. Nonetheless, he has amassed a significant following, both among practitioners and people who swear by the efficacy of mewing.

    Interestingly, the concept of tongue posture isn't new; what Dr. Mew did was popularize it and link it to a broader range of potential benefits, including aesthetic improvements. He also emphasizes the idea that our modern lifestyle, with processed foods requiring less chewing, contributes to poor facial development.

    One point to note is that Dr. Mew's work mostly comprises case studies and anecdotal evidence rather than large-scale clinical trials. While this doesn't necessarily disqualify his theories, it does raise questions about their general applicability.

    So, when we ask, "Does mewing actually work?" it's essential to recognize that the practice comes from a place of theoretical and anecdotal backing, spearheaded by a figure who, while influential, remains a subject of debate within the medical community.

    The Science of Mewing: How Does It Work?

    Getting into the nitty-gritty, let's examine the science—or supposed science—behind mewing. At its core, mewing relies on the idea that constant tongue pressure against the roof of the mouth stimulates the midface, the upper jaw, and even the lower jaw. This process, over an extended period, can allegedly bring about structural changes.

    According to orthotropic principles, the tongue serves as a natural brace that guides the growth of the maxilla (the upper jaw) in childhood and maintains its structure in adulthood. This idea somewhat aligns with known physiological processes. For instance, bones are dynamic structures that can adapt to forces, known as Wolff's Law. However, this is generally observed in response to more significant, prolonged stress like weightlifting, and it's unclear whether the tongue can exert sufficient pressure for skeletal changes.

    There is also the argument that mewing could improve orofacial myofunctional disorders, conditions that involve improper tongue posture or function. Some research suggests that proper tongue posture could benefit those with obstructive sleep apnea, but these studies are often small and inconclusive.

    It's also important to note that the most transformative mewing results, as reported anecdotally, often involve younger individuals. This leads to the question: Is it the natural growth process at play, or does mewing have a role? The scientific community is still out on that one.

    A critical part of this discussion revolves around the absence of robust clinical trials. Most of the supporting evidence comes from anecdotal accounts and smaller studies, which do not offer the statistical power needed to draw definitive conclusions.

    The science behind mewing is still very much a grey area. If you're asking, "Does mewing actually work?" the most honest answer, from a scientific standpoint, is that we don't fully know yet.

    Proponents and Their Claims: Benefits of Mewing

    Mewing has its share of fervent proponents, and their claims are not limited to aesthetic benefits. So what exactly are people saying? Here are some of the most frequently touted advantages:

    1. Improved Facial Aesthetics: This is perhaps the most discussed benefit. Many mewers report a more chiseled jawline and improved facial symmetry after consistent practice.

    2. Better Breathing: Advocates argue that mewing can open up airways, making it easier to breathe through the nose. This, in turn, has cascading benefits for overall health, as nasal breathing is generally considered healthier than mouth breathing.

    3. Enhanced Posture: The idea is that proper tongue posture naturally aligns the spine, leading to an overall improvement in body posture.

    4. Dental Health: Some even claim that mewing could contribute to better dental alignment, reducing the need for braces or other orthodontic interventions.

    While these claims are wide-ranging, they often come from personal experiences and testimonials. For many, these anecdotal reports are convincing enough to give mewing a try. Yet, the plural of anecdote is not data, and individual successes don't necessarily translate into universal applicability.

    It's also crucial to consider the confirmation bias at play here. People who believe strongly in mewing's benefits are more likely to report positive outcomes, sometimes overlooking or downplaying any negative or neutral experiences.

    So, if you're still pondering, "Does mewing actually work?" you'll find plenty of voices shouting a resounding "Yes!" But it's essential to approach these claims with a discerning eye, taking into account the current lack of comprehensive scientific evidence.

    Skeptics and Their Arguments: Does Mewing Actually Work?

    While mewing has its fair share of enthusiasts, there's also a significant group of skeptics who question its efficacy. Many of these skeptics are healthcare professionals, including orthodontists and maxillofacial surgeons, who have dedicated their lives to understanding facial anatomy and development.

    One of the chief arguments against mewing is the lack of high-quality scientific evidence. The skeptics point out that the majority of the research in support of mewing is anecdotal or based on small-scale studies. This absence of large, controlled, peer-reviewed studies casts a shadow over the practice.

    Moreover, critics argue that while the tongue undoubtedly plays a role in oral health, its ability to reshape the jaw or facial structure in a meaningful way, especially in adults, is far from proven. Skeptics often refer to the principle of Wolff's Law, which posits that bones adapt to pressure. However, they question whether the tongue can exert enough consistent pressure to cause skeletal changes.

    Another point of contention is the potential for harm. Incorrect mewing techniques or excessive force can lead to a range of problems, including jaw pain, TMJ disorders, and even dental issues. Skeptics argue that the lack of standardization and expert guidance makes mewing a risky endeavor for the uninformed.

    Finally, there's the issue of opportunity cost. Time spent mewing could be directed towards other, evidence-based interventions that improve facial or dental health. If you're asking, "Does mewing actually work?" skeptics would likely advise you to consider other more established options first.

    While proponents of mewing offer a plethora of success stories, the skeptics raise valid concerns, primarily grounded in the lack of scientific evidence and the potential for misuse or harm.

    Breaking Down the Anecdotal Evidence

    So much of what drives the mewing trend is anecdotal evidence. Social media is awash with before-and-after photos of individuals who claim to have reshaped their faces, improved their posture, or even resolved health issues through mewing. But how reliable is this evidence?

    One thing to consider is that many of these anecdotal accounts often lack context. Factors like the duration of mewing, age of the individual, and whether other interventions were involved are frequently missing. In some cases, people may have been undergoing other treatments, like orthodontic procedures, that could account for the changes.

    Additionally, there's a tendency for "success stories" to get more attention. The Internet has a way of amplifying positive results while ignoring or burying the negatives. This selective reporting can skew perceptions and make mewing appear more effective than it might be.

    There's also the matter of placebo effects. If someone strongly believes that mewing will work, they may unconsciously notice or exaggerate changes, further perpetuating the belief in its effectiveness.

    On the flip side, anecdotal evidence shouldn't be dismissed entirely. After all, many medical discoveries started as observations before formal research confirmed them. However, while anecdotal evidence can spark interest and point towards areas for potential study, it isn't a substitute for rigorous scientific evaluation.

    If you're asking, "Does mewing actually work?" and are tempted by the numerous success stories, remember that anecdotal evidence is just the starting point. It can be intriguing and suggestive, but it's not definitive.

    Therefore, while personal stories about mewing can offer valuable insights, they should be considered alongside other forms of evidence when evaluating the practice's effectiveness.

    What the Research Says

    Let's get down to brass tacks. What does the scientific research say about mewing? The short answer is: not much, but it's not entirely absent either.

    As of my last update in January 2022, there's a dearth of large-scale, peer-reviewed studies specifically focused on mewing. However, there are related areas of research in orthodontics and orofacial myofunctional therapy that can provide some context.

    For instance, studies on orofacial myofunctional disorders and therapies have shown that correcting tongue posture can lead to better outcomes in treating conditions like sleep apnea. However, these benefits are generally functional rather than aesthetic, and the scale of these studies is often limited.

    Additionally, there's research showing that the tongue does play a role in maxillofacial development, particularly during childhood. Yet, this is not the same as proving that deliberate tongue positioning can reshape the adult face or jaw.

    Importantly, there is a lack of research into the long-term effects or potential risks of mewing. This is a significant gap in the literature, as any intervention—no matter how seemingly benign—comes with the potential for unintended consequences.

    If you're looking for a clear-cut answer to the question, "Does mewing actually work?" based on scientific literature, you'll likely be disappointed. While some strands of evidence could be seen as supportive, they are not strong enough to make definitive claims.

    So while the practice may hold promise and certainly warrants further investigation, as of now, it's far from proven in the realm of scientific scrutiny.

    Expert Opinions: The Healthcare Perspective

    Given the popularity and controversy surrounding mewing, it's only fair to delve into what healthcare professionals have to say on the matter. Generally, the medical community remains cautious, if not skeptical, about mewing's alleged benefits.

    Orthodontists often point out that the claims made about mewing are expansive and range from facial aesthetics to functional benefits like improved breathing. However, they stress that the bulk of the scientific research currently supports only the latter to a limited extent.

    Dr. Sarah Williams, a board-certified orthodontist, suggests that while tongue posture is indeed critical for orofacial development, especially in younger individuals, the notion that it can drastically reshape one's face is largely speculative. "The tongue is a powerful muscle, yes, but its capability to restructure bone, particularly in adults, is yet to be proven," she states.

    Speech therapists who specialize in orofacial myofunctional disorders also weigh in on this topic. They affirm that correct tongue posture can help in cases of speech problems or certain types of sleep apnea but are hesitant to support the broader aesthetic claims.

    Maxillofacial surgeons, experts in facial bones and structures, generally hold that significant changes to the facial skeleton usually require surgical interventions. While they acknowledge the role of the tongue in facial development, they contend that its impact is more subtle and gradual, often taking years to manifest if at all.

    The healthcare perspective on mewing aligns more closely with skeptics. Most professionals advocate for more research and recommend a cautious approach to mewing, especially when considering it as an alternative to established medical treatments.

    If you're asking, "Does mewing actually work?" the answer from most healthcare experts would be a reserved "perhaps," with emphasis on the need for more conclusive research.

    Potential Risks and Side Effects

    Like any practice that involves bodily manipulation, mewing comes with its own set of potential risks and side effects. Let's break these down.

    Firstly, improper technique can lead to issues. The tongue is a powerful muscle, and incorrect or excessive force can result in jaw pain or even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. These conditions can be painful and sometimes require medical treatment.

    Additionally, mewing could lead to bite problems. Overemphasizing tongue pressure on the palate may cause the teeth to shift over time, possibly affecting your bite and leading to other dental issues. It's not as harmless as it might initially seem.

    There's also the matter of psychological effects. Becoming too preoccupied with mewing and facial aesthetics can contribute to body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), a mental health condition characterized by an obsessive focus on perceived flaws in appearance.

    Moreover, anecdotal reports suggest that mewing can sometimes lead to headaches, likely due to the constant strain and tension. It's essential to approach mewing with a balanced perspective and consult healthcare providers if any issues arise.

    Given these potential risks, it's crucial to approach mewing cautiously and under guidance if possible. If you're already dealing with any oral or facial medical conditions, it's even more important to consult with professionals before starting.

    So, does mewing actually work? Even if it does to some extent, it's vital to weigh the benefits against these possible risks and side effects. Proceed with caution.

    Dos and Don'ts: How to Mew Properly

    So you've sifted through the myriad opinions and decided you want to give mewing a try. That's fair enough! However, it's crucial to know how to do it correctly to minimize risks and potentially maximize benefits.

    Do consult a healthcare provider before you start, especially if you have existing oral or jaw issues. Professional guidance can help tailor the practice to your individual needs and flag any potential risks you might not be aware of.

    Do maintain a relaxed tongue posture against the roof of your mouth. The pressure should be firm but not forceful. Think of it as a gentle but consistent force, like gravity.

    Don't overdo it. Obsessively mewing every waking moment could lead to the aforementioned risks like jaw pain, TMJ disorders, or even dental issues. Moderation is key.

    Don't neglect other aspects of oral health. Good tongue posture is just one piece of the puzzle. Regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene, and a balanced diet also play a significant role in maintaining oral and facial health.

    Do pay attention to your body. If you experience discomfort, pain, or any other adverse effects, it's a sign that something might be off. Consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

    While mewing can be an interesting experiment in self-improvement, it's vital to approach it with a balanced, informed perspective. Do your due diligence, consult experts, and listen to your body.

    Conclusion: The Verdict on Mewing

    So, does mewing actually work? We've wandered through the maze of opinions, scientific studies, and anecdotal evidence to try and arrive at a verdict. The most honest answer at this juncture is a measured "maybe."

    There are definite merits to proper tongue posture and some aspects of facial development that mewing advocates discuss. However, the sweeping claims about mewing as a life-changing practice for facial aesthetics are, at best, currently unsupported by comprehensive scientific evidence.

    Moreover, there's a sense of caution that needs to be applied when considering mewing as an alternative to medical treatment or surgical intervention for certain conditions. Remember, your face is a complex structure influenced by genetics, age, and a multitude of other factors. One-size-fits-all solutions rarely work when it comes to healthcare.

    Like any trending topic, mewing has its share of fervent proponents and skeptical detractors. Where you stand might be somewhere in the middle, and that's perfectly okay. If you do decide to try it, proceed with caution, consult with experts, and be mindful of your own body and its responses.

    So, whether you're an ardent believer or a skeptic, the conversation around mewing provides a fascinating look into how internet culture intersects with healthcare and self-improvement. The debate is far from settled, but it's a dialogue worth participating in.

    The most practical advice would be to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out. Critical thinking and a consultative approach with healthcare providers will likely serve you best.

    Additional Resources

    If you're keen on delving deeper into the subject of mewing, oral posture, and facial development, there are several resources you might find useful. Below are some suggestions to get you started.

    Books can offer in-depth knowledge and insights that online articles and videos might not cover. "Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic" by Sandra Kahn and Paul R. Ehrlich provides an excellent overview of the impact of oral posture on health.

    Scientific journals are another good source for those who want a more analytical and peer-reviewed perspective. The "Journal of Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery" often has articles related to facial structure and development.

    Forums and online communities, such as Reddit's r/orthotropics, can offer anecdotal experiences and advice, although it's crucial to cross-reference information found here with trusted sources.

    YouTube channels run by healthcare professionals can be useful for demonstrations and expert opinions. However, be cautious about taking advice from non-experts, as they might disseminate incorrect or misleading information.

    Lastly, if you're serious about mewing or have specific medical concerns, consulting with a qualified healthcare provider for personalized advice is always the best course of action.

    Remember, an informed decision is usually a better decision, so take your time to research and think critically about whether mewing is right for you.

    Books for Further Reading

    1. "Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic" by Sandra Kahn and Paul R. Ehrlich

    2. "Myofunctional Therapy: Foundations and Clinical Applications" by Joy Moeller, Barbara Greene, and Licia Coceani Paskay

    3. "Growth and Treatment: A Meeting of the Minds" by David Sarver and Marcio Rodrigues de Almeida


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