Mewing should be something you do 24/7, so make sure you’re not doing it wrong. Mewing in itself is not that hard of a technique, but there are some subtleties to it. Many people complicate or overthink it. I found myself falling into some of these common pitfalls myself.
However, the devil is in the details. Your habits define you, and if you mew improperly, it will set you back or even make you look worse. Don’t make these mistakes. For an in depth analysis of these mistakes, see my video:
Otherwise, read on for a summary of these mistakes.
Not Applying Pressure Evenly
Remember that mewing is about maximizing the surface area of the tongue on the roof of your mouth. Most people’s palates are small, so the last thing you want to do is miss out on palatal real estate. Spread out the tongue and make sure it’s hitting close to your molars and behind your front teeth on the incisive papilla.
When I first started, I would subconsciously roll my tongue sometimes. I wasn’t doing it on purpose, but this had an effect of applying pressure only in the middle of the palate. That’s not what you want, so I began paying special conscious attention to spreading out the tongue evenly.
Not Engaging the Back Third
The all-important back third of the tongue is constantly harped on in mewing circles. This is the hardest part of the tongue to get up because we have little in the way of nerve endings there. It can take several months before we get good at raising this part of our tongues.
The back third of your tongue is next to your wisdom teeth. You can see what it feels like to engage the back third of the tongue by taking a big gulp/swallow. When you do that, the back third of the tongue naturally hits your soft palate.
Forgetting the Hyoid Muscles
The hyoid muscles need to be helping your tongue make contact with your upper palate. If you can’t get the back third of your tongue up, it’s probably because your hyoid muscles aren’t doing their job. While the tongue is pushing upward and forward, the hyoid muscles need to be pushing upward and backward.
This is because your hyoid muscles and the free-floating hyoid bone are connected to the base of your tongue. Here is the hyoid bone location:
When you mew properly, the hyoids should naturally tuck themselves in, improving the appearance of your submental region. Click here to see our article for more info on optimizing the submental region.
To purposefully contract your hyoids, engage the neck muscles around your hyoid bone so that it moves upward. Think of it as the opposite of a yawn.
Only Engaging the Tip
This is a classic rookie mistake that everyone should avoid from the jump. Focus on getting the back third of the tongue up, as well as applying pressure evenly on your whole palate.
When in doubt, run your tongue along the roof of your mouth as far back as you can. Feel where the upper palate becomes softer? Your back of your tongue should be touching that area at the same time that the front of your tongue is touching your incisive papilla.
Forgetting About the Tip
After you’ve mastered keeping the back third of your tongue up, you’ve probably forgotten all about the front of the tongue. Or at least, that’s what happened to me. So much importance is stressed on the back third of the tongue because not everyone can get that part up. As a result, lots of us tend to ignore or just forget all about the tip of the tongue.
Unfortunately, the front of the tongue requires conscious action on your part to rest on the incisive papilla while the back third of your tongue is also up. Don’t forget about it.
No Lateral Force
The tongue is nature’s best palatal expander. Ancient men had an intermolar width of about 50 mm. Normal people today, even those without malocclusion or lack of spacious jaws, have an intermolar width of around 40 mm. A wider palate supercharges your mewing results because the surface area of the tongue on the roof of the mouth is maximized. People with narrow palates have difficulty mewing in the first place.
As a result, don’t forget about the lateral force that your tongue can exert on your palate. Your tongue should never press on your teeth, but the palate itself is a curved dome shape:
Don’t forget to push towards your cheekbones with your tongue on the area that’s close to your teeth. Try getting the tongue on the roof of your mouth and then thickening it, the same way you would flex your bicep. But again, don’t touch the teeth.
Not Maintaining Lip Seal
You should be breathing through your nose at all times, and your lips should be sealed when mewing. Lip seal is something that for most people happens naturally. However, if you have lip incompetence, meaning that your lips naturally don’t touch, this is something you will have to consciously think about.
Poor Body Posture
Mewing is merely proper tongue posture, but as a result, it also depends on proper body posture.
Body posture is a chain that starts at your feet. If your shoulders are hunched or you have anterior pelvic tilt, your head will point downwards. But you’re going to compensate by gazing upwards so that you can see at eye level instead of looking at the ground.
When your head posture is forward, it becomes impossible to keep the back third of the tongue on the roof of the mouth because it’s being stretched out. To fix your body posture, start doing McKenzie chin tucks and start paying conscious attention to your whole body posture instead of just your tongue.
Not Keeping Teeth in Contact
Dr. John Mew has previously stated that the teeth touching are what is primarily responsible for the facial upswing that comes from mewing. When you think about it, chewing hard foods is going to apply way more pressure to your maxilla than the tongue ever will. But with proper mewing posture, the molars have to at least be lightly touching so that your maxilla has some support, even when you’re not eating.
While the tongue is important, the occlusion between the upper and lower jaws is what supports your maxilla. So if your tongue is on the roof of your mouth, your lips are sealed, but your lower jaw is hanging downwards, you’re not accomplishing much. This can absolutely hamstring your gains if you aren’t careful.
Grinding Your Teeth
The other side of the tooth contact coin is bruxism, or excessive teeth grinding. You are meant to have light contact, not break your teeth against each other. Over time, this can lead to much worse aesthetic results because of masseter hypertrophy.
Mewing is meant to be done 24/7, even in your sleep. It must become who you are, or else you’ll never see its full effects. The biggest challenge to newcomers is just nailing the consistency. Several tips I have for this are:
- Set alarms on your phone to remind you to mew.
- Use psychological triggers to remind you to mew, such as walking through a doorway or looking at your cell phone.
- Set a background wallpaper or your computer or cell phone that will remind you to mew.
Pushing on Your Teeth
Don’t push on your teeth with your tongue. Dentists will tell you this, and I’ll tell you as well. Pushing on your teeth can cause them to misalign and this is not the effect we want with mewing.
Yes, the tongue is a natural palate expander, but this is meant to be entirely bone-borne, not tooth-borne.
If you can’t mew without pressing on your teeth, you might have a naturally small palate. This is a rough spot because mewing can’t be utilized to its full potential and won’t help you. At this stage you have to see a doctor and have expansion work done on your palate. Adults should look into MSE (maxillary-skeletal expander).
Cutting off Airway
Don’t push backward and upwards with your tongue. There’s so much advice out there that states “you know you’re mewing right if you’re cutting off your airway” and that’s not necessarily true. If you have a recessed jaw, sure, there’s simply not enough room in your mouth and the back of the tongue will press on the airway. But that’s not normal and if it doesn’t happen to you, it doesn’t mean you’re mewing wrong.
And if it does happen to you, stop. Breathing is more important than mewing.
Most people overestimate how far back their tongue goes. Note where wisdom teeth end:
The hard palate ends shortly thereafter as well. Any further back and you’re just pressing on tissue, not bone. Your tongue doesn’t need to be hitting your uvula. Most people have enough room in their mouths to not cut off their airway.
Incorrect Suction Hold
The suction hold for mewing is way simpler than it sounds. To perform it properly you simply:
- Assume the normal mewing position. Back straight, lips sealed, tongue on the roof of the mouth.
- When spit begins to develop, gather it in one spot.
- Roll the spit down your tongue and into your esophagus, without using your cheek or face musculature.
- Keep repeating until pressure builds up between your tongue and hard palate.
That’s it. You are not creating a suction effect in your whole mouth, just between your tongue and hard palate. You’re not purposefully making an intraoral vacuum. The tongue adheres to the hard palate naturally because the tongue is soft and wet, and the hard palate is hard.
The front 2/3 of the tongue create the suction. The back third still requires active pressing on your part, as does the suction hold in general.
If you have so much suction that your tongue is getting pushed into your teeth, you’re doing it wrong. Your tongue should not look scalloped like this:
Bonus Tip: Incorrect Swallowing
Proper swallowing helps push up on your palate and can give you more hollow cheeks. To swallow properly you must simply:
- Roll food up into a ball with your tongue, not your cheeks.
- Push this food down into your esophagus with your tongue, in a worm-like motion.
That’s it. The confusion simply lies in that most people overcomplicate this and can’t tell if they’re using the proper muscles. All you have to do is pay conscious attention to your buccinator muscle outlined here in red:
Alternatively, practice swallowing with your mouth/lips open. If you find this easy, you’re probably already swallowing correctly. All this consists of is just not sucking your food in.