For the past few months, “mewing” videos have invaded the web with a tantalizing promise: to restructure the bottom of our slumped or leaky face. All thanks to a simple method of language replacement. Explanations and development with speech therapist Sylvie Drai-Jacquin.
The “mewing” is adapted from the technique of repositioning the language (normal tongue posture) theorized by John Mew, a British orthodontist born in 1928. By studying the environmental impact on the evolution of our jaw over the centuries, Mew observes that human appetite for soft and cooked foods has weakened the muscles of the jaws as well as the posture structure of the face from the cheekbones. This results in a leakage of the mandible (lower jaw) and an advance of the maxilla (upper jaw) that prevents dental occlusion (i.e. the nesting of the upper and lower teeth).
Indeed, this type of feeding encourages perpetuation of the primary swallowing that corresponds to infant suction, and consists of pushing the tongue towards the jaws to allow feeding. When teeth appear and move to solid food, suction, which has become obsolete, is given way to chewing. This mechanism that allows the swallowing and pre-digestion of food being thwarted by the horizontal back and forth movement of the tongue, it will now plate on the palate to allow chewing. This placement of the tongue corresponds to the transition from primary swallowing to secondary swallowing.
If this step is neglected, due to too soft food or “round” swallowed food, primary swallowing, instead of being inhibited, will continue and cause teeth to move due to continuous pressure of the tongue during swallowing. The mouth will tend to remain open and be used in place of the nose to breathe, resulting in poor posture of the shoulders (vaulting).
Mewing consists of re-educating the placement of the tongue (which must be placed on the palate) during swallowing and even resting) to muscle the jaws, ensure a good seating of the teeth, realign them and rebalance the cheekbone-jaw-chin axis. Hence its success on the Internet where this revisited method promises to give everyone a harmonious and toned face.
3 questions to Sylvie Drai-Jacquin, speech therapist
What impact does the way we swallow on our teeth?
The tongue is an organ composed of 17 muscles (organ of phonation, swallowing and chewing). We swallow between 1700 and 2000 times per 24 hours. Primary or infant swallowing is normal in infants and very young children, favoured by sucking a finger or nipple with lingual interposition between the upper and lower arches (the tongue moves forward where the teeth appear). Then we move on to secondary swallowing between 3 and 7 years with the installation of canines and incisors. The persistence of primary swallowing beyond this age is called atypical swallowing and results in malformation of dental arches, jaws and pronunciation disorders. It can also help to remove teeth in adults. This swallowing should be re-educated as soon as possible.
What are exercises?
During secondary swallowing, the tongue does not touch the front teeth. Rehabilitation therefore consists in acquiring these automatisms by first exercising in front of a mirror: this swallowing is done by taking a sip of water and feeling the tip of the tongue in the palate without contact with the front teeth and closed lips without tension: the exercise will be repeated several times and the patient will have to do it daily at home. We will then work with a semi-liquid food (compote) to work the chewing with the control of the tongue constantly. The patient must also learn to position the tongue behind the top teeth without touching them, for the following consonants: T D N L GN
Finally, we raise awareness of the lingual position at rest: the tongue, in fact, must be suction cup to the palate and the lips closed to also promote nasal breathing. The general posture should be checked and worked also if necessary. This rehabilitation is the same for a 7-year-old as for an adult. The patient must also get rid of the following tic: lip licking. The speech therapist must help the patient acquire these automatisms. For this he needs his motivation and his cooperation.
When the teeth have moved, is this practice enough to correct their position?
No, absolutely not. Orthodontic treatment is essential for correcting dentoskeletic abnormalities. But to ensure the final stability of treatment, speech therapy is necessary. Through rehabilitation, the speech therapist makes the patient aware of the language. Rehabilitation must begin before any orthodontic treatment so that the patient learns to position his language. When removing the braces or rings, it is necessary to repeat one or two control sessions and to get used to new sensations without being tempted to touch your teeth with your tongue (and not risk moving them again). This well-conducted rehabilitation can be carried out in 4/5 sessions if the patient is aware of the importance of it. Of course, the number of sessions can be greater. The work of the orthodontist and the speech therapist complement each other for the benefit of the patient.