‘Mewing’ TikTok dentist advised young children harmful treatment, tribunal told

Orthodontist Dr Mike Mew, who is facing a misconduct hearing (PA) (PA Wire)
Orthodontist Dr Mike Mew, who is facing a misconduct hearing (PA) (PA Wire)

A orthodontist whose methods around shaping the jawline have gone viral advised treatment to young children which “carried a risk of harm”, a tribunal has heard.

Dr Mike Mew, whose “mewing” techniques have racked up nearly two billion views on TikTok, faces a misconduct hearing at the General Dental Council (GDC).

Briefly opening the hearing in central London on Monday, Lydia Barnfather, representing the GDC, said comments made by Dr Mew, who claims to help “alter the cranial facial structure”, on his YouTube channel were “pejorative” about orthodontists.

The GDC alleges this is not only very protracted, expensive, uncomfortable and highly demanding of the child, but it carries the risk of harm

Lydia Barnfather, representing the GDC

Ms Barnfather 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.

She said: “He believes that orthodontic therapy is erroneously based on the concept of genetic aetiology, what has been inherited, where he believes that the cranial facial form should be addressed with regards to environmental geology.

“It’s his belief that environmental factors have led to faces having a down swing and in diagnosing what he calls cranial facial dystrophy.”

Ms Barnfather went on: “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.

“Thereby goes his theory, the theory devised by this father, cause structural changes of the face, cause an expansion of the underlying cranial facial form, including the nasal axillary complex, and create space in both dental arches so that the teeth align naturally.

“In addition, he claims ENT (ear, nose and throat) conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnoea, is cured.”

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

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.

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 head gear 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 said: “The GDC allege you are not to have treated patients the way you did.”

She argued both children had “perfectly normal cranial facial development 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.

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

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.