Ever heard of tongue training? Mewing is essentially the practice of tongue training to achieve a more defined jawline or to improve a bad bite.
Dr. Mike Mew, the British orthodontist who, through his YouTube channel, introduced the concept of mewing to the world after which it went viral amongst many teenagers and adults who wanted to go a notch higher with their facial aesthetics.
So what exactly is mewing and how can one practice it? Also, does mewing come with side-effects like TMJ disorder? Read on further to learn all about it.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), is what connects your jaw to the skull. The temporomandibular disorder (TMD) occurs when there is a pain in the jaw joint or the muscles that control the jaw movement due to factors such as genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury.
Very often, the pain can be cured with self-managed care or nonsurgical treatments and is usually temporary. However, in some extreme cases where the other measures may have failed to work, a surgical procedure might be required.
Some common signs of TMD include:
- Pain or tenderness in your jaw
- Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
- Aching pain in and around your ear
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Aching facial pain
Main Causes of TMJ Disorder
The causes of TMJ disorder may vary from person to person and a particular environment that a person may live in. Some of the common causes include:
Having arthritis in this joint is a common cause of TMJ disorder, if not diagnosed and treated immediately. The longer one may have jaw arthritis, the most severe course of treatment would be required. In a 2007 study of people with Rheumatoid arthritis, close to 93 percent of them had TMJ symptoms or destruction of the jaw bone.
Clenching of teeth
Having the habit of clenching your teeth can not only be harmful to your teeth but also cause jaw damage and, over time, lead to TMJ disorder. Clenching stiffens your jaw muscle, in turn making it more prone to damage at the joint. Usually, stress is one of the major factors for one to clench their teeth and keep them locked in that position for a long period of time.
Any external factor due to which that particular area of your jaw is damaged is also considered as one of the main causes of TMJ disorder. The injury can turn into TMD, depending on the extent of the impact.
A dental surgery that can result in the misalignment or shift in the jaw can also cause TMD if your jaw isn’t compatible with it. However, the chances of this being a cause are very rare.
Structural jaw problems
Movement of the soft cushion or disc between the ball and socket of the joint or even genetic structural jaw problems since birth can cause one to suffer from TMJ disorder in the long term.
Sometimes, the cause may vary depending on the environment. What this simply means is instances where a person is a violinist who plays the instrument by placing it right under their jaw causing strain and thus causing the disorder.
Some studies also show a correlation between TMJ disorder and hormones since this disorder is more common among women than men.
Can Mewing cause TMJ Disorder?
Mewing can be considered a risky alternative if not practiced correctly. It is crucial to learn the proper tongue posture and not lean towards hard mewing for faster results.
Hard Mewing takes a different approach than soft mewing. In soft mewing, the tongue’s resting position is changed without applying any external pressure. Contradictorily, hard mewing demands constant pressure being placed on the roof of the mouth.
This is where the risk factor comes in. The forceful pressure applied can cause an imbalance in the facial structure over the long run. To conclude, mewing, if practiced correctly, cannot cause TMJ disorder.
Forward Head Posture and TMJ
Forward head posture (FHP) is nothing but bad neck posture that is a result of constantly having your head tilted in a particular position while checking your phone or laptop. It is when the hyperextension of the upper cervical vertebrae and forward translation of the cervical vertebrae.
Some of the common problems associated with FHP include headaches, neck discomfort, muscle tension, chest pain, and more. It puts condyles of the jaw deeper into their sockets that can trigger pain and in turn, lead to TMD due to overtime neglect. Your slouched posture can cause length-tension relationships of the muscles attached to the jaw and can trigger hypertonus (increased tone or contraction) activity of some of those muscles that compress the jaw.
Your FHP and TMD can very well be interconnected with each other. However, FHP affects more than just your jaw. It can create discomfort and damage to your spine, respiratory functions, shoulder, and head pain. A lot of times, people receive treatment for the chronic problems that occur because of FHP but not for the root of the problem which is what needs to be addressed in the first place.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorder
So, how can one know if they are suffering from TMJ? Looking out for some signs would be the best place to start. If you find yourself dealing with any of the following symptoms, it’s time to get a check-up done.
This is also one of the easiest ways of detecting a problem. If you find that your jaw is aching for a while, then maybe it is time to look deeper into the problem. The pain is not just limited to the jaw but even constant headaches or migraines can result in TMD.
An unusual popping, clicking, or grinding noise from your jaw is another obvious symptom that occurs while eating, talking, or even opening your mouth. However, the sounds are quite common and are only a point of worry when accompanied by pain or other symptoms.
If you find that your jaw is not opening completely like it used to, it may be time to be more alert and keep a check out for other symptoms. Not only does it create discomfort but also could be a segue to TMD.
Other than this, you can also find TMD by getting an X-ray or MRI of the jaw and even a CT scan of the skull. Buzzing, ringing, or numbness in the ears along with earaches are also some symptoms you can look out for.
Effective treatments for TMJ Disorder
There are several traditional, non-surgical treatments for TMJ disorder along with surgical ones too. Some of these include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like naproxen or ibuprofen, are easily available at your local pharmacy and can help you deal with your TMD if it is in its nascent stage.
Moist heat or cold packs
Regularly applying these packs to your face can help with the inflammation to go down. Performing this routine multiple times on the same day will help with the disorder.
Eating soft foods
Yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, and many more items that are soft in texture can go down your food pipe much easier than hard, crunchy food that would require you to open your mouth wide or put in an extra effort to chew.
Learning relaxation techniques
These techniques not only help with the pain but will also loosen up your jaw. It can also help you reduce the stress that would make you clench your jaw.
A splint or night guard
A plastic mouthpiece will keep your jaw in place and so that even when you sleep, you don’t have to think about your jaw being in a different position that could lead to damage.
If it is a bite problem, you can ask your dentist to replace missing teeth and balance your mouth out.
There are doctors who would recommend giving you an injection for pain and relieving the pain in your mouth. This is an easy fix for any kind of pain caused by TMD.
In some cases, the TMD has reached a phase where more invasive measures are required to be able to fix it. Depending on the kind of problem it is, that’s the kind of surgery one would need to recover.
Will Mewing help with TMJ Disorder?
There are many cases that have shown that mewing can help you keep TMD at bay. Although, this is only the case with soft mewing. Hard Mewing on the other hand can cause an imbalance in your facial structure and lead to TMJ issues.
According to an article from Medical News Today, one can see a significant amount of relief in their TMD by practicing soft mewing.
Dr. Mew on Mewing and TMJ Disorder
Dr. Mew, the originator, and advocate of the mewing technique believes in treating TMD with the help of mewing. The way the process works is an exercise to be followed on a daily basis. It can act as a stress relief exercise as well that can prevent TMD in the long term.
Mewing as a technique has gained popularity over the years because of the attention it is receiving on social media. If you’re someone who would want to restructure your face and aligns it according to the preferred face aesthetics, you may want to consider mewing for a faster and effective result.
Q1. Does mewing help with TMJ?
Yes and no. If you follow the process correctly, you can achieve your desired face structure without risking TMD. However, hard mewing can end up making you prone to TMD.
Q2. Can mewing ruin your face?
If mewing is done in a way that is not recommended, it can adversely affect your face.
Q3. Does tongue thrust cause TMJ?
Since it interferes with the tongues resting position and provides unnecessary pressure on the palate, long term effects do include TMJ.