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- Chewing gum may enlarge your masseter muscles, which are the muscles near your ears.
- But it would take years of chewing gum for around 6-8 hours a day to make a visible difference.
- To actually change the shape of your jaw, opt for options like dermal fillers or botox.
Chances are, you may have seen the slew of viral youtube videos touting the effects of chewing gum to define the muscles in your jawline. But despite the popularity of this quick “hack” for bigger jaw muscles, the science behind it is dubious.
Here’s what you need to know about the effect of chewing gum on your jawline, as well as other ways to change the appearance of your jaw.
Does chewing gum give you a better jawline?
Just like how doing reps in the gym lead to bigger muscles, the repetitive act of chewing gum can have a similar effect, says Dr. Derek Steinbacher, the chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at Yale Medicine and a professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine.
In particular, chewing gum can enlarge the masseter muscles, which are the jaw muscles that are located near your ears.
But the amount of chewing that you would have to do to actually see wider, thicker masseter muscles is excessive –– probably six to eight hours of chewing a day for years at a time, says Dr. Sunthosh Sivam, a head and neck surgeon, facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and assistant professor of otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine.
In addition, any potential enlargement will likely just take place at the angles of the jaw, making only this area wider, Steinbacher says.
Not to mention, the size of your masseter muscles is only one component of many that affect the overall appearance of your jawline. Sivam says these other factors include:
- The structure of the mandibular (jaw) bone itself
- Fat pads in your cheeks
- Fat in your neck
- Excess skin in your neck
- The position of salivary (spit) glands in your neck
- The bone structure of the mandibular (jaw) bone itself
Because of all these factors, it’s impossible to guarantee that chewing gum will build muscle in the exact places that look most aesthetically pleasing. Instead, you may end up facing unnecessary risks.
Risks of chewing gum
If you chew gum, especially if you chew it excessively, you face potential risks due to the ingredients in the gum.
Steinbacher says chewing gum with sugar is not good for your teeth. This is because the bacteria in your mouth metabolize sugar into acid, which can lead to tooth decay or cavities.
Chewing sugar-free gum can help you avoid this, however, Steinbacher says some people experience sensitivities to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
Furthermore, since chewing gum involves your jaw, this habit can worsen any existing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders or TMJ pain, says Sivam.
TMJ is a jaw dysfunction that affects up to 12% of people worldwide. It can lead to symptoms such as:
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Ear aches
- Pain during chewing
- Locking or clicking of the joints
Additionally, chewing gum can result in effects that go beyond your jaw and teeth. When you chew gum, you may swallow too much air, which can lead to GI symptoms like excess burping, farting, and bloating.
How to change your jawline
Cosmetic procedures, whether non-surgical or surgical, are far more likely than chewing gum to give you the exact results you desire if you want a different jawline shape.
A specialist will work with you to discuss your ideal jaw shape and determine what you’re a candidate for.
Non-surgical options include:
- Injectable dermal filler: Filler injected along the jaw can help contour a sharper jawline, says Steinbacher. This is a non-invasive outpatient procedure, and the most common types of filler will give results that last six to 12 months.
- Kybella (deoxycholic acid): Kybella is an injectable that dissolves fat under the chin, which can in turn create a more defined jawline, Sivam says. You may need multiple sessions to continue to destroy fat cells and achieve the desired results.
- Botox: Botox can reduce the size of your masseter muscles. Sivam this procedure is best for someone who wants to get a sharper jawline by slimming the appearance of their jaw and reducing the width of the face, rather than increasing the bulkiness of the masseter muscles. The results typically last four to six months, says Sivam.
- Weight loss: If you’re overweight and your doctor agrees that weight loss is healthy for you, losing weight can change the appearance of your jaw. “Maintaining or working towards a healthy weight can help create better definition in the face overall, and that can contribute to a more defined jawline,” Sivam says.
Long-Term surgical options include:
- Neck contouring: Since the skin and fat under the chin and on the neck affect the appearance of the jaw, Steinbacher says a neck lift or liposuction can help those who are the right candidate. During a neck lift, the surgeon removes fat and skin from the area. Liposuction is when excess fat is suctioned out through small incisions in the skin.
- Facial implants: Steinbacher says a surgeon can insert facial implants in the jaw or even the chin to create a different shape for the jaw. The implants are typically made of medical-grade silicone, and they are a long-term alternative to dermal filler.
- Orthognathic surgery: For some patients, orthognathic jaw surgery is an option, Steinbacher says. In this procedure, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon will operate directly on the jaw bones to correct alignment and reshape the jaw.
While it is possible for chewing gum to strengthen your masseter muscles and increase their size if you chew enough, it isn’t necessarily your best bet if you want a sharper jawline.
Remember, the masseters aren’t the only factor in how your jaw looks. It also depends on the structure of your face.
Opting for cosmetic procedures performed by professionals will give you much more precision and more ideal results when it comes to contouring your jawline. See a board-certified dermatologist or surgeon for a consultation to discuss what type of procedure is best for you.