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J Biomech. 2007;40(15):3363-72. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

Three-dimensional finite element modelling of muscle forces during mastication.

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Bioengineering Institute, The University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1, New Zealand.


This paper presents a three-dimensional finite element model of human mastication. Specifically, an anatomically realistic model of the masseter muscles and associated bones is used to investigate the dynamics of chewing. A motion capture system is used to track the jaw motion of a subject chewing standard foods. The three-dimensional nonlinear deformation of the masseter muscles are calculated via the finite element method, using the jaw motion data as boundary conditions. Motion-driven muscle activation patterns and a transversely isotropic material law, defined in a muscle-fibre coordinate system, are used in the calculations. Time-force relationships are presented and analysed with respect to different tasks during mastication, e.g. opening, closing, and biting, and are also compared to a more traditional one-dimensional model. The results strongly suggest that, due to the complex arrangement of muscle force directions, modelling skeletal muscles as conventional one-dimensional lines of action might introduce a significant source of error.

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