Dentist behind ‘mewing’ jaw line social media craze accused of causing harm to children

Dr Mike Mew has been accused of harming children with his ‘mewing’ technique - Belinda Jiao/PA
Dr Mike Mew has been accused of harming children with his ‘mewing’ technique - Belinda Jiao/PA

The orthodontist behind a social media trend to help people get a more defined jawline has been accused of harming children at a tribunal.

Dr Mike Mew’s “mewing” technique has gained widespread popularity online as a way for people to alter how their face looks to give a more obvious jawline.

How-to videos with hundreds of thousands of views show the technique, which was created by Dr Mew’s father Dr John Mew and popularised online recently, in action.

The method involves sticking your tongue to the top of your mouth and sucking it upwards continuously to make the neck appear sleeker.

But Dr Mew is now accused of performing jaw-shaping procedures which “carried a risk of harm” to two children and faces a misconduct hearing at the General Dental Council (GDC).

Lydia Barnfather, representing the GDC, told the professional conduct committee Dr Mew seeks to treat children with “head and neck gear” and “lower and upper arch expansion appliances” to help align teeth and shape the jawline.

“What he intends to do, and what he claims to do, is to invert the vertical growth of the face to horizontal growth, widening the face,” she said.

Father’s theory

Dr Mew’s theory, she said, was devised by his father initially and focuses on changing the structure of the face by creating space in both dental arches to allow teeth to align.

“The GDC alleges this is not only very protracted, expensive, uncomfortable and highly demanding of the child, but it carries the risk of harm,” Ms Barnfather continued.

It was heard that between September 2013 and May 2019 advice and treatment was provided to two children, referred to as Patient A and Patient B.

From the age of six, Patient A was advised to use upper and lower arch expansion appliances and wear neck gear to “gain a substantial increase in nasal capacity”, “improve the midface”, “change the swallowing pattern” and “guide facial growth”.

Dr Mew believed this would allow more space for the teeth and tongue so “all the 32 teeth align naturally without the need for fixed braces”, the tribunal heard.

He also suggested Patient A underwent a lingual tongue-tie release, which he said would allow her to rest with her tongue on the roof of her mouth and strengthen the jaw.

A photograph showed Patient A’s upper and lower teeth slanted forward, that she had recession of the lower front teeth and an unaligned upper tooth following the treatment, as well as an ulcer.

‘So concerned’

The tribunal heard a consultant was “so concerned” by what he saw in the girl’s mouth and the “harm the appliances were doing” that he referred Dr Mew to a council.

Patient B’s parents were recommended “the widening of both arches”, the “wearing of headgear at night” and the potential “provision of a Myobrace or training appliance”.

The boy was found to have recession of the lower front teeth by another practitioner.

Dr Mew was accused of failing to “carry out appropriate monitoring” of their treatment and “ought to have known” this was liable to cause harm.

Ms Barnfather added: “The GDC alleges you are not to have treated patients the way you did.”

She argued the development of both children was “perfectly normal” for their age before treatment took place.

Ms Barnfather argued the treatment was “not clinically indicated” and Dr Mew “had no adequate objective evidence” it would achieve its aims.

Stephen Vullo, representing Dr Mew, who denies the allegations, said Patient A’s mother was “entirely supportive” of the treatment, and that she was “very happy” with the outcome.

Online trend

Dr Mew’s techniques have sparked an online trend of sharing results on social media platforms like Reddit and TikTok.

He is now facing misconduct charges for treating people with his "orthotropic" treatments, which he says could render many current orthodontic treatments unnecessary.

Orthotropics refers to a technique of changing the shape of the face by correcting the resting posture of the tongue and mouth.

He will argue there is “sufficient, objective evidence” to back up his treatment, it was heard.

The tribunal has been adjourned until Monday next week.