If you thought shaved eyebrows and sock curls were strange TikTok beauty trends, chew on this: A new fad is making the rounds on social media, targeting teen boys convinced they must chisel their jawlines to Brad Pitt-ish proportions. Introducing facial fitness gum, an uber-hard gum that proponents claim will strengthen the muscles of the face and lead to a more sculpted look. (Wait, what? Does chewing gum help your jawline somehow? More on that later.)

This TikTok video, for instance, shows 21-year-old Turkish social media star “Efewissie” chomping on the gum (in braces, no less!) and telling followers: “Just chew and get a sharp jawline in no time.” It has more than 65,000 likes.

But dentists say not so fast.

“It’s not going to build your jawline—that’s the bone, not the muscles,” says Dr. Jon Miller, a general and cosmetic dentist in Manhattan Beach, CA. “Your jaw bone is shaped based on your genetics.”

Of course, that hasn’t stopped legions of gum-chewers from popping a piece a day and hoping for the best. It’s just part of a so-called “looksmaxxing” trend that’s pushing boys and men to try all sorts of things to “max” their appearance.

“On TikTok, there are always people talking about upping your looks,” says 14-year-old Jack, a Los Angeles resident whose last name was omitted for privacy. “For girls, it’s seeing people dressed better and being skinnier; for boys, it’s people trying to promote different ways to look better.”

So what do we know about the latest teen craze, and can chewing gum actually help your jawline? Here’s the lowdown.

What is facial fitness gum?

Going by names like RockJaw, Jawliner, Jawz, and Gum of Steel, jaw-enhancing gum is basically regular gum—but much, much harder to chew. Jawliner, for instance, claims to be 15 times harder than ordinary chewing gum.” Instructions vary, but most recommend chewing the gum from 10 minutes to 1.5 hours daily for several months.

“Not born with a strong jawline?” Jawliner asks on its home page. “Sick of seeing a double chin?” Showing plenty of photos of men with perfectly chiseled jawlines (and a picture of a Grecian God statue on the packaging), the company goes on to say,“ You don’t have to choose between going under the knife or accepting a less-than-ideal face shape.”

Does jaw-enhancing gum work?

While it’s true that chewing gum does give your muscles a workout—after all, the act of chewing involves the masseter muscle of the outer cheek—it’s not likely to actually change your face shape, Miller says.

“People who clench and grind their teeth a lot tend to have a bigger masseter muscle,” Miller says, “but the masseter is in your cheek; it’s not really along your jawline.”

And while there are numerous anecdotal reports of people who claim jawline gum worked wonders for their faces, the actual science behind face-sculpting gum is spotty. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Dental Sciences did find that chewing regular gum can strengthen the muscles of the tongue and cheek—but that study was done to find the usefulness of gum-chewing on feeding and swallowing functions (not appearance). And while a 2018 Japanese study concluded that a diet of soft food can lead to a decrease in bone mass in growing animals, it didn’t mention anything about jawline appearance.

Miller speculates that if there’s a difference to be seen, it would take years of chomping—and it would be subtle.

“It’s not going to be that three or four months of chewing gum is going to make your muscles tone up,” he says. “I wouldn’t think it would do a whole lot for muscle definition.”

For teens, he added, time might be all they need to get the chiseled look they want. After all, those baby cheeks will naturally slim down, since “buccal fat” (the so-called “baby fat” in the cheeks and face) starts to dwindle in the late teens and early 20s.

Why are teen boys so focused on their jawlines?

It’s not the first time social media has tempted teens with the promise of a male model-worthy jawline. Facial fitness gum comes on the heels of another TikTok-fueled face fad called “mewing,” which involves pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth in an effort to reshape your jawline.

And despite hordes of teen boys trying to tongue-press their way to Herculean effect (or, at least, use “mewing” as an excuse to stay silent in the classroom), that trend was similarly challenged by experts.

“Facial restructuring is not simply achievable by changing your tongue’s resting position,” the American Association of Orthodontists explains in a statement on its website. “Mewing has generated significant social media buzz lately. However, there’s no current research that suggests the technique provides any benefit to your jawline or oral health.”

To chew or not to chew?

That doesn’t mean smacking on gum is a bad thing. Chewing regular gum has been shown to increase focus, reduce anxiety, quell nausea, and in the case of sugar-free gum, prevent tooth decay. But as for giving you jaws of steel? Doctors say only genetics (or surgery) can do that.

That said, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends no more than 20 minutes of chewing gum at a time; more than that can cause inflammation, jaw pain, and headaches.

“Excessive gum-chewing can tire out your muscles and cause tension as well as TMJ problems,” Miller explains. “When people ask me about their TMJ joints—if they have popping or clicking—I tell them, maybe stay away from chewing gum.” And with some of these brands ringing in at almost 50 cents per piece, teens are probably better off saving themselves the money, too.

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