Do Jaw Workouts Actually Work?

The home exercise industry is worth billions of dollars and companies are doing their best to cash in.

It seems like every week there is a new gadget promising to “revolutionize your workouts” and drastically improve your strength and body composition. One of the latest trends revolves around jaw workouts, with proponents promising that these simple, mass-marketed products can firm-up your facial muscles, strengthen your jaw, and—somehow—hasten facial hair grow.

But how many of these claims are based in actual science and are these devices actually effective?

The Idea

The idea behind jaw exercise products is quite simple: You place a plastic/silicone ball/wedge in your mouth, and you chew. The product is soft but provides enough resistance to allow for a jaw workout.

The adverts often begin by asking you why you spend so much time and money working out your body but don’t devote any of that time or money to your face.

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Your jaw is a muscle, they argue, so it can be exercised just like everything else. And when you exercise it, you’ll see muscular development, leading to greater strength and endurance.

It makes sense, but as with all gimmicky products, it’s not quite as straightforward as you might think. They want you to focus on the simple fact that you have muscles in your face, muscles can be worked, and working-out equates to improvements. But when you dig under the surface, you encounter some serious problems.

Do Jaw Exercisers Work?

There are muscles in your face and it’s true that using a jaw exercising product can grow them. This is known as masseter hypertrophy, and it follows the same process as other muscular development (albeit with different results).

The problem is, your jaw isn’t like your bicep muscle. The former is used heavily throughout the day (talking, eating) while the latter is often relaxed. Furthermore, your jaw muscles are considerably more important for your overall health and unnecessary strain can cause damage to your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Excessive use of this muscle can lead to chronic jaw problems, including clicking, popping, dislocations, tension headaches, and more. 

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The idea that you can “tone” your jaw, or any muscle for that matter, is also nonsense. Muscle grows. It gets bigger, fuller. Being “toned” means you have grown some muscle and that muscle is more visible than it was before. Exercising your jaw won’t give you a surgery-free facelift, as many commercials claim, but it might give you a neck/jaw that even a boxer would be envious of. 

As for “spot” training, the idea that you can reduce fat around the chin, this is also unfounded. There is no such thing as “spot fat loss”. You can’t have fat arms and legs but also have a six-pack just because you do 500 sit ups a day. Fat loss occurs all over your body. If you want to get rid of that double chin, make sure you’re in a calorie deficit.

That’s really all it takes.

To Summarize…

Just to be clear, while a jaw exercising gadget may help to build some strength and muscle, it will likely do more harm than good. What’s more, contrary to what the commercials claim, it won’t trigger hair growth or reduce wrinkles in any way. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that this would be the case and common sense also suggests otherwise.

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It’s often said that using one of these gadgets will increase oxygen flow to the face, which in turn will trigger hair growth and reduce signs of aging. But if that was the case, chewing gum would have similar effects.

These products may serve a purpose. It’s possible that they can benefit combat sport athletes when used under supervision, but even then, the negatives likely outweigh the positives.