Facial gum is all the rage on TikTok. So does it work?

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TikTok has given the world some unusual fads, from cooking chicken in NyQuil to stepping on a pyramid of milk crates. Now, a new trend on the social media platform is catching on with young men who want to achieve a chiseled jawline.

A handful of companies — including Stronger Gum, Jawz and Rockjaw — have launched chewing gum products called “facial gum,” which they are marketing heavily on TikTok. Companies selling facial gum claim their products will lead to stronger, more defined jaw muscles, improving one’s physical appearance. 

“Stronger jaw muscles are not only beneficial for facial appearance but also essential for health,” Stronger Gum says on its website. “Strong jaw muscles promote correct oral posture: mouth closed, teeth aligned, tongue resting against the roof of mouth and stable head position. Correct oral posture has many important benefits such as breathing through the nose providing up to 20% more oxygen to your body.”

The gum products sell anywhere from $2 for a pack of 10 gum pieces to $90 for a pack of six pieces. The companies are selling a special type of gum called mastic, a tree resin that is tougher to chew than normal gum. Because of its texture, it can be chewed for a longer period, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, which in turn exercises jaw muscles, the companies say. 

In an email to CBS MoneyWatch, Rockjaw founder Sachin Patel said there’s proof mastic gum helps shape jawlines, citing a 2019 study from Tokyo Medical and Dental University that concluded “masticatory force can prompt changes in facial structure.”

“There are studies that show increased chewing with higher mechanical loads increases jaw muscle and bone size,” Stronger Gum’s owner Tomas Palomaki told CBS MoneyWatch in an email, pointing to the same study. “As anecdotal evidence, I increased my jaw muscle size by chewing Stronger Gum for less than a year.”

Why is facial gum so popular?

Facial gum is just one of many trends younger consumers have adopted in hopes of defining their jawline. Another technique, made famous by British orthodontist John Mew and called “mewing,” involves flattening the tongue against the roof of one’s mouth for extended amounts of time throughout the day.

Popularized on TikTok, mewing, like facial gum, is part of a larger trend known as “looksmaxxing” — a male-focused collection of behaviors and products promoted as effective in helping men improve their physical appearance. Like most looksmaxxing trends, mewing has been dismissed by some physicians who call it an ineffective way to change one’s facial structure.

“Facial restructuring is not simply achievable by changing your tongue’s resting position,” the American Association of Orthodontists said in a statement in January. “It’s a complex process that involves moving jaw bones, facial bones, and soft tissue. 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.”

Do facial gum products actually work?

Facial gum may be the latest social media trend in men’s beauty, but there’s no scientific evidence that chewing the product will sculpt someone’s jawline, dental professionals told CBS MoneyWatch. 

The American Dental Association said it doubts the gums work. Chewing a tougher gum may strengthen jaw muscles but fails to change the “undersurface of the jawline,” which can actually lead to a wider shaped jaw and face, the group said in a statement posted on its website. 

“Most viral trends are rarely backed by scientific evidence and can range from ineffective to harmful when it comes to oral health,” Edmond Hewlett, spokesperson for the ADA, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Chewing tougher gum could actually have other adverse effects on someone’s health, Hewlett added. 

“The intensity of chewing gum for extended periods of time on a regular basis — especially if it is dense or has a thick consistency — could lead to symptoms like jaw pain, headaches and put you at risk for temporomandibular disorders,” said Hewlett, a dentistry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Khristopher J. Brooks

Khristopher J. Brooks is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch. He previously worked as a reporter for the Omaha World-Herald, Newsday and the Florida Times-Union. His reporting primarily focuses on the U.S. housing market, the business of sports and bankruptcy.

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