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J Biomech. 1985;18(8):599-612.

Predicted pattern of human muscle activity during clenching derived from a computer assisted model: symmetric vertical bite forces.


A computer assisted three-dimensional model of the jaw, based on linear programming, is presented. The upper and lower attachments of the muscles of mastication have been measured on a single human skull and divided into thirteen independent units on each side--a total of 26 muscle elements. The direction (in three dimensions) and maximum forces that could be developed by each muscle element, the bite reaction and two joint reactions are included in the model. It is shown for symmetrical biting that a model which minimizes the sum of the muscle forces used to produce a given bite force activates muscles in a way which corresponds well with previous observations on human subjects. A model which minimizes the joint reactions behaves differently and is rejected. An analysis of the way the chosen model operates suggests that there are two types of jaw muscles, power muscles and control muscles. Power muscles (superficial masseter, medial pterygoid and some of temporalis) produce the bite force but tend to displace the condyle up or down the articular eminence. This displacement is prevented by control muscles (oblique temporalis and lateral pterygoid) which have very poor moment arms for generating usual bite forces, but are efficient for preventing condylar slide. The model incorporates the concept that muscles consist of elements which can contract independently. It predicts that those muscle elements with longer moment arms relative to the joint are the first to be activated and, as the bite force increases, a ripple of activity spreads into elements with shorter moment arms. In general, the model can be used to study the three-dimensional activity in any system of joints and muscles.

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