Hi! I recorded a video (below) musing on this topic, and thought I’d give you all a text version as well, both because I’m not very concise on video and so you can see the alien face pics a bit better (ha).
I recently tried one of those “face symmetry” apps where it takes a picture of your face and shows you what it would look like if it were perfectly symmetrical, either using the right or the left side. This really highlights any facial asymmetries you might have, and I found my results super interesting (for a few reasons), so wanted to share!
Yes, I do look like an alien in both, but it’s pretty clear that the right half of my face is better developed than the left. And you’ve probably heard me mention before that historically, I’ve chewed almost exclusively on the right side.
Left is the left half of my face, right is the right half of my face. What I found crazy is that not only is my jawline/occipital area better developed on the right, which I would’ve expected, but my nose is smaller and lips are fuller as well! I suppose the lips thing makes sense, because I’m using those muscles more. Not sure about the nose thing…maybe my nose is just slightly crooked so the left half gets more of it! Also, I can only wink my left eye, not my right…no idea what that means, if anything.
On the surface, the analysis here seems pretty clear: my face developed better on the side that I chew on. This fits well with the entire theory behind mewing and the like, which is essentially that form follows function, and changing muscle habits and patterns will change the form of one’s face.
But upon further reflection, this also begs the question: why have I always chewed on the right side? The answer is because my molars didn’t touch on the left. Okay, then the question again is: why?
Eventually I’d like to look into this question a bit more systematically in an attempt to actually answer it, but for now, I’d venture a guess that like many questions related to cause and effect, the directionality isn’t perfectly clear and distinct. Once a process is set in motion, effects become causes themselves, and before long it can become a vicious cycle.
In my case, I’d wager that something in my genetics, epigenetics, or early environment resulted in poorer development of the left side of my face. I think the argument is strong for a genetic component, considering many of the teeth on my left side are noticeably smaller than the corresponding teeth on the right.
That developmental asymmetry, even if it was slight, probably lead to differences in how I used my face/jaw early on as a baby/child, and those asymmetrical habits probably further affected development in an asymmetrical way.
And now here I am at 27 years of age trying my best to chew on the left side of my mouth more often! Because in addition to the questions we can ask about causes, I think it’s also interesting (and far more practical) to consider whether (or to what extent) asymmetries in form can be corrected over time by correcting asymmetries in function.
Again, I’m sure there’s data and anecdotes out there about this (and please share below if you have any!), but in my case, I think it will be interesting simply to do my best to chew more evenly and then repeat this face symmetry photo exercise, perhaps in a year or so. So stay tuned (and keep me honest – if you’re reading this in 2022, remind me to take another pic and share with you guys!).