A receding jaw can diminish your facial appearance. However, not everyone needs to get surgery to move a jaw forward.
You can move your jaw forward without surgery with mewing (if you’re young enough) and techniques like face-pulling. Some appliances like MSE, Frankel appliances, facemasks, and MARA can also move your lower and/or upper jaw more naturally.
Can I Move My Jaw Forward Without Surgery?
People can move their jaw forward without surgery, but it depends on their case. Some people may have severe jaw misalignment, and surgery may be the only option.
However, many people can move their jaw forward with appliances, techniques, posture, etc.
How to Move Your Jaw Forward Without Surgery
Keep in mind that while bones can change in adults, the rate of bone remodeling is insanely slow, especially if you’re done growing. There’s a huge difference between guiding growth while you’re still growing and guiding bone remodeling.
Mewing is when you correct your tongue, mouth, and neck posture. It also involves applying pressure to your upper palate using your tongue.
The main idea is to lift your tongue and rest it flat on your palate. You want your tongue to cover your palate as much as possible. You use your tongue to apply light and comfortable pressure to your palate 24/7.
Your palate gets stimulated when you apply pressure to your palate. The stimulation encourages your midface and lower jaw area to move forward and upward.
A crucial part of mewing is how you push your tongue on your palate. You want to push your tongue forward and upward to get the best results.
The upward and forward pressure of your tongue will also make your hyoid and masseter muscles push forward on your lower jaw in response. Make sure you do not move your tongue too forward to the point that you touch your teeth. Otherwise, mewing can make your front teeth slant outward.
When you breathe through your mouth, your mouth is often hanging open, and your tongue rests on the bottom of your mouth. The improper jaw and tongue posture eventually leads to a receding upper and lower jaw.
Mewing can help people who have receding upper and lower jaws. Those traits are common in mouth breathers. Mewing encourages you to breathe through your nose while helping your bones move forward.
Children and teenagers see the quickest and most visible results from mewing. They usually see results in as quickly as six months to 2 years. However, adults can also get great results if they do it correctly and consistently. Most adults can see changes in their appearance after 2-4 years. But the most obvious changes will be the soft tissue under the jaw, which can contribute to the appearance of a forward-grown jaw.
Click here to look at people’s results from mewing.
Face-pulling is a technique that encourages your maxilla to move forward. It is very similar to mewing. Most people say they see the best results when they try mewing and face-pulling at the same time.
When you try face-pulling, you apply a force to the palate to encourage your bones to move upward and forward. You can use your thumbs to apply the pressure. You could also use an intraoral device that can connect to orthodontic headgear. Most people can wear headgear for 8-12 hours each night, but some have to wear them for as long as 18.
Face-pulling is somewhat more similar to hard-mewing than traditional mewing. Hard-mewing focuses on applying more pressure to your palate for as long as you can. Traditional mewing is when you use comfortable but consistent pressure on your palate.
There is no hard evidence that face-pulling works. However, the logic behind face-pulling is the same as mewing. There is a lot of evidence that supports the principles of mewing. Therefore, face-pulling should also work for you.
So is face-pulling better than hard-mewing? We cannot say for sure, but some people struggle to hard mew because their tongue feels sore. Therefore, face-pulling might be a better alternative. However, face-pulling requires finding a doctor that’s willing to make a face-pulling device for you.
Click here to learn more about face-pulling.
MSE With a Protraction Facemask
You can use an MSE with a protraction facemask to expand your maxilla and move your maxilla forward. This treatment is ideal for people who have underbites, narrow palates, etc.
MSE stands for Maxillary Skeletal Expander. It is a device that expands your palate to create more space for your tongue and teeth. It also increases the volume of your airways (Zhao et al., 2020).
An MSE works by slowly pulling the two halves of your upper jaw apart at the suture. The process can be painful, especially when the device is installed. Patients typically feel discomfort for the first few days, and then they get used to it after.
Most people will have to continue to wear their palate expanders even after reaching their desired palatal expansion. The palatal expansion created a space between the two halves in your palate. Your body needs time to let a new bone set in at the suture to avoid a relapse back to the original position.
There are different kinds of MSE to suit a patient’s specific needs. For instance, most children and teenagers can use rapid maxillary expanders because their bones are more malleable. However, adults will need to opt for stronger expanders like SARPE.
A protraction facemask is an appliance that applies forward and downward traction on the upper jaw. Protraction facemasks can treat Class III malocclusions like underbites.
There are forehead and chin rests (often called supports) on a protraction facemask. A metal bar connects the two supports across your face to maintain the support between your chin and forehead.
There usually are two elastics on the chin rest that you attach to an intraoral device (typically an MSE). The elastics help apply extraoral force to encourage the maxilla to move up and forward.
Most people wear protraction facemasks for 8-12 hours at night. You do not have to wear it longer than that or during the day because the elastics already apply a heavy force. Plus, you will need to let your chin and forehead rest.
Wearing both an MSE and facemask can significantly help you move your upper jaw forward, especially for adults. The facemask applies a lot of force, which most adults will need to get faster results.
However, you need to speak to an orthodontist or dentist to see if this is an option for you. For instance, people with overbites may not benefit from this treatment because it can move their upper teeth even further outward.
Furthermore, advancing the maxilla will not advance the mandible. Sometimes, if you’re still growing, advancing the maxilla will take the mandible along for the ride, especially if it’s done slowly, like with mewing. But otherwise, you need to have a separate plan for the mandible itself.
The Frankel appliance or Functional Removable (FR) appliance is a single piece that looks like two connected retainers. The appliance is usually made out of stainless steel wires and highly polished acrylic shields like retainers.
People with open bites and overbites can use this to correct their bite and move their lower jaw forward. Patients need to wear the Frankel appliance all the time except when they eat or clean their teeth.
Your speech may sound a bit different for a week or so. However, most patients will have normal speech after using the appliance for a few weeks.
MARA (Mandibular Anterior Repositioning Appliance) corrects a bite. It typically is for people who have severe overbites, where their maxilla considerably overlaps their mandible. It often works quicker than traditional headgear, and it is more discreet.
MARA helps moves the upper teeth and jaw backward as it moves the lower teeth and jaw forward. Many people use the appliance while wearing braces. Most people use MARA for 9-12 months while wearing braces. A dentist will remove the device but leave the braces.
However, we don’t recommend this device, given that it pulls back on the maxilla, which is always disastrous for facial aesthetics.
Mandibular Advancement Devices
Mandibular advancement devices were created to help sleep apnea sufferers move the jaw forward so that the tongue does not fall back into the airway. But it also has uses in facial aesthetics, such as treating overbite Pliska et al. (2014). It’s similar to the MARA device in that it pushes your maxilla back.
If you have an overbite, MAD and MARA devices will help you and are your best option if you can’t do surgery. However, moving your maxilla back leaves less room in your mouth overall, and you would be much better off getting mandibular advancement surgery.
For more on mandibular advancement devices, check out our article.