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J Oral Rehabil. 2002 Oct;29(10):923-50.

Oral mucosal versus cutaneous sensory testing: a review of the literature.

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Laboratory of Oral Physiology, Department of Periodontology, School of Dentistry, Oral Pathology and Maxillofacial Surgery, Catholic University Leuven, Belgium.


The innervation of skin and oral mucosa plays a major physiological role in exteroception. It also has a clinical interest as illustrated by sensory changes after neurosurgical procedures. These sensory changes often rely only on the patients' subjective reports, although objective assessments are possible. This review compares the neurophysiological features of the trigeminal sensory pathways with those of cutaneous sensory innervation. In this review, three receptor groups will be discussed: mechanoreceptors, thermoreceptors and nociceptors. Differences between receptors in the glabrous skin, the hairy skin and the oral mucosa will be highlighted. Sensory testing devices have been developed to quantify psychophysiological parameters such as the threshold level for receptor activation upon mechanical stimulation, but such devices have been merely developed to determine the threshold of skin receptors (tactile, thermal). Later on, some have been adapted to suit the particularities of the oral environment. This review attempts to compare the available literature on test devices for oral versus cutaneous tactile function. It summarizes what is common or rather particular to the devices used to study either cutaneous or oral receptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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