What Is Face Pulling and Does It Work?

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The up-and-coming field of orthotropics has changed the way we think about facial development. With do-it-yourself techniques like mewing resulting from the field, there’s more hope than ever for improving your facial appearance from the comfort of home.

A new facial improvement technique that’s tangentially related to the ideas of orthotropics is that of face pulling. This weird technique involves pulling the center of your face apart, upwards, and forwards with your thumbs… but does that really work? In this article, I’ll answer that question and others.

What Is Face Pulling?

Face pulling is a controversial facial improvement technique that involves pushing against the roof of the mouth (the palate) with your thumbs. The main purpose of face pulling is to widen the palate, but there are claims that it might also help to move the maxilla upwards and forwards, creating a more attractive facial appearance.

Benefits

Face pulling has a number of purported benefits, all of which are achieved by expanding the palate and shifting the maxilla upwards forwards. These include:

Increased tongue space

By pushing the molars apart, face pulling expands the palate. This means there is more space for the tongue to rest on the palate, which is essential in maintaining proper tongue posture.

Reduced risk of dental crowding

Similarly, by expanding the palate, there is more space for the teeth. This reduces the risk of dental crowding (which is a common cause of crooked teeth), especially in younger individuals whose mouthes are still developing.

Improved facial appearance

By shifting the maxilla upwards and forwards, face pulling is said to result in an improved facial appearance. It’s unclear exactly why this is, but moving the maxilla upwards and forwards may improve cheekbone visibility while also providing additional support for the eyes.

Side Effects

Since face pulling relies on pushing against the palate for a prolonged period of time, the most common side effects are discomfort and pain. Depending on the force used, this can be anywhere from mild to severe in strength.

An unusual side effect that some individuals experience when face pulling is a popping sound. Some speculate that this is the sound of the skull’s joints (called sutures) breaking apart, which is ultimately what allows for the shape of the skull to change. Sutures that may be affected include the median and transverse palatine sutures.

How to Do Face Pulling

Since face pulling is still an experimental technique, there is no right or wrong way to go about it. The most popular approach is to position the thumbs at the back of the palate, against the molars and gums. Then, push gently for several minutes and repeat, aiming for a combined total of no more than one hour a day.

According to orthotropist Dr. Mew, the optimal direction to push is forwards and upwards, as this will shift the maxilla in the desired direction. There should also be some outwards force (against the molars) in order to achieve expansion of the palate.

It’s incredibly important not to overdo it, as this may cause serious pain and/or permanent damage to the face. Some suggest alternating between a week of face pulling and a week of rest to allow the face to heal.

Does It Work?

There are no scientific studies to confirm that face pulling works. However, numerous forum users claim to have seen a expansion in the size of their palate within just months of starting the technique. This makes sense: after all, if braces can move the teeth apart, why can’t your thumbs?

Whether or not face pulling can move the maxilla is more controversial, since the skull bones are held firmly in place by one another. Unfortunately, movement of the maxilla is much harder to measure than expansion of the palate, so there are no reliable case studies to review.

Face Pulling vs Palate Expanders

A well-established alternative to face pulling is the palate expander: an orthodontic appliance specially designed to widen the palate. Do note that palate expanders are not, however, designed to move the maxilla.

Palate expanders can either be removable — in which case, they are worn mainly during the night — or irremovable. Since they apply constant pressure to the teeth throughout the entire day (or at least a large fraction of the day), there is no doubt about their effectiveness.

Importantly, these devices are usually prescribed for children, whose skulls are still developing and are much more malleable. It is also possible for adults to use a palate expander, but this is a topic that should be discussed with your orthodontist.

Final Thoughts

Face pulling is a weird technique with little clinical evidence to support it, but there’s good reason to think it might help in expanding the palate and moving the maxilla. Unfortunately, it bears quite a few uncomfortable side effects. For sole palate expansion, professional palate expanders are probably the way to go.

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