Does Mewing Really Sculpt Your Jawline?

Getty Images / Jack Vartoogian.

In the past year, TikTok has had a heavy influence on how we maximize our appearance. From the rise of facial contouring and ‘Bold Glamour’ filters to relying on pseudo-scientific technology to analyze our “ideal” facial structure, we’ve become more hyper-fixated on looksmaxing and will try almost any viral technique to be content with how we look– even if it’s controversial. 

“Mewing involves resting the tongue against the roof of the mouth, with the tip of the tongue placed behind the upper incisors and the posterior tongue against the palate,” internal medicine and aesthetic physician, and founder of Glo by Glen, Dr. Glenicia Nosworthy, tells ESSENCE. But the viral trend– touting the ability to define a more prominent jaw– is arguably the most controversial facial optimization technique in history. 

Below, three experts break down the controversy behind mewing and debunk the myths surrounding the trend.  

The controversial history behind ‘mewing’

John Mew, the father of the viral ‘mewing’ trend, is no longer licensed to practice in the United Kingdom. And, in his recent New York Times profile, many prominent American orthodontists described him and his work in unfavorable terms. In the Netflix documentary Open Wide (2023) he and his son, Mike Mew, described their controversial “correct growth” orthotropic theories– from anti-braces alternatives and jaw lodging to intentional physical pain and child medical experimentation– that molded their non-traditional orthodontic standards.

“There is, no doubt, a correct-shaped human face, like there is with every other animal,” John Mew says in the documentary, claiming humans should all look the same. “Everyone is programmed to have the same type of face,” he continues. “But the development of our face has gone wrong.” With specific concern of the jaw in their work, the term ‘mewing’ is the latest revival of a widely debated technique founded in the 1970s. Their jaw restructuring methods– including odd facial contraptions and razor-sharp disciplinary retainers– were designed to temporarily recede the jaw before squaring and locking it into the “correct” placement.  

Dr. Nosworthy partnered with orthodontist and founder of ARK Esthetics Dr. Yakov Eisenberger, merging medicine and dentistry with their joint facial optimization venture GLO|ARK. “Controversies surrounding orthotropics primarily stem from the divergence from traditional orthodontic practices and the limited scientific basis for its claims,” they say. “The effectiveness of mewing remains a subject of debate within the orthodontic community.”

In the Netflix documentary, Mike Mew referred to his viral mewing trend as an “absolute gift” with over one billion hashtag views on TikTok. Young people took hold of the tongue-to-palate technique, pushing their tongue flat on the roof of their mouth for a larger, more prominent jawline. This “facial restructuring” approach is supposed to postulate the jaw resulting in realigned teeth and facial definition. What was traditionally described as a “scary” and “brutal” years-long procedure, is now as easy as tongue placement and chewing more gum. 

As facial contouring is on the rise, value-hacking techniques to achieve the benefits of facelifts and Botox without the cost have gone viral. “Facial restructuring, whether through mewing, orthotropic interventions, or alternative approaches, aims to optimize facial aesthetics and function,” Eisenberger says. For people under the age of 18, jaw surgery, facelifts or other non-invasive procedures may not be a viable option to reshape their face, but that hasn’t stopped trends– like prey v. hunter eyes, mogging, and hyper-realistic filters – from populating on our feeds.

How has it evolved?

Just like the evolution of the human face, “mewing” has evolved to require less pain and virtually no tools or professional help, other than your tongue. “The tongue is a strong muscle,” cosmetic dental surgeon at Eden Dental Aesthetics, Dr. Brandon Mack says. “Some people have a tongue thrust where the tongue can push up against and in between the teeth, and cause the teeth to shift and move.” Compared to traditional orthotropics, the tongue is now given the responsibility Mew-invented contraptions would have had. 

TikTokers claim they have seen a more defined jawline in just a few months through mewing. Other than the way in which people mew, new jaw-contouring technology like the Medi Lift Essential Mask, non-surgical facelifts and Botox® can help you achieve the jawline you’re mewing for. 

Does ‘mewing’ really work?

“While anecdotal evidence and before-and-after photographs suggest positive outcomes in some individuals, rigorous scientific studies evaluating the efficacy of mewing are lacking,” Eisenberger and Nosworthy say. According to, no credible research has proved mewing can permanently alter your jaw structure. The medically reviewed article also notes before and after photos can be unreliable because photo angling, lighting and editing can be altered. 

“Facial restructuring is any procedure and technique that will alter the structure or appearance of the face,” Mack says. “Veneers alter the face and jaw shape so do fillers and rhinoplasty (nose job), all of them have different process recovery time and benefits.” However, despite Mike and John Mews claims, Mack responds “perfect symmetry doesn’t always mean something will be beautiful or yield the best result.”  

Here’s what the experts recommend instead

“In addition to mewing, optimizing jaw definition and symmetry can be achieved through orthodontic treatment, orthognathic surgery, facial exercises, and minimally invasive aesthetic injectables,” Eisenberger and Nosworthy say. “Orthodontic interventions such as braces and aligners can address malocclusions and dental alignment issues, contributing to improved facial aesthetics and symmetry.” 

Dermal fillers can be injected along the jawline to add volume, correct asymmetry and jaw projection, while other facial optimization procedures offered by GLO|ARK can address both medical and dentofacial orthopedics. “Some of my patients do a procedure called a “smile lift” where we’re able to open bites to increase the lower one third of the face and really give a different appearance to the jaw structure,” Mack says.

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