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J Dent Res. 1986 Mar;65(3):400-4.

Relationship between jaw movement and food breakdown in human mastication.


Different quantities and sizes of peanuts were offered to six human subjects for mastication at two or three experimental sessions during which jaw movements and chewing cycle duration were measured. The amplitude of vertical movement and cycle duration depended on the position of a chew in a sequence of chews (masticatory sequence). Cycle duration also depended on the position of a given masticatory sequence during the first experimental session, the earlier sequences tending to be longer. Lateral jaw movements fluctuated about a reasonably constant value during a sequence and were unaffected by different food inputs. The amplitude of vertical movements increased markedly with an increase in food weight but was unaffected by change in the initial food particle size. These results were analyzed in the light of previous reports on the comminution of peanuts. It is hypothesized that observed jaw movements were unrelated to food particle size but that the amplitude of each vertical movement depended on the volume of food that was broken by the teeth during the next closing stroke. This food volume was provided and selected by bulk movements of the tongue during the preceding jaw opening.

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