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Arch Oral Biol. 2010 Oct;55(10):797-802. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2010.06.016. Epub 2010 Jul 27.

Age and gender influence on maximal bite force and masticatory muscles thickness.

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Department of Morphology, Stomatology, and Physiology of the Ribeirão Preto Dental School (RPDS), University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.


The present study aimed investigate the age and gender influence on maximal molar bite force and at outlining the criteria for normal masticatory muscle development in a sample of 177 Brazilian Caucasian dentate individuals aged 7-80 years divided into five age groups: I (7-12 years), II (13-20 years), III (21-40 years), IV (41-60 years), and V (61-80 years). Except for Group V, which comprised nine women and eight men, all groups were equally divided in respect to gender (20 M/20 F). Bite force was recorded with a mouth-adapted 1000N dynamometer and the highest out of three records was regarded as the maximal bite force. The data were submitted to multivariate statistical analysis (SPSS 17.0 p<0.05). Effects of group and gender were found, but no interactions between them. The ANOVA showed significant differences between groups bilaterally. Bonferroni's test showed that group I had significantly lower bite force means at both sides as compared to all groups, except group V. No differences were found between the left and right sides. In all the groups, gender was found to be a significant factor associated with maximal bite force. A global comparison including all the subjects and measures showed that the means of men were approximately 30% higher than those of women. Within-group comparisons yielded similar results in all groups. Muscle thickness was measured with a SonoSite Titan ultrasound tool using a high-resolution real-time 56mm/10MHz linear-array transducer. Three ultrasound images were obtained from the bilateral masseter and temporal muscles at rest and at maximal voluntary contraction. The means of the three measures in each clinical condition were analyzed with multivariate statistical analysis (SPSS 17.0 p<0.05). A gradual increase in thickness of the masseter and temporal muscles was found both at rest and maximal voluntary contraction for groups I to IV, whereas a decrease in muscle thickness was observed in group V. Multivariate analysis showed that in both conditions there was an effect of group and gender. The study of the development of the stomatognathic system in relation to age and gender can provide useful data for the identification of normal and impaired functioning patterns. The results of this study indicate that age and gender are associated with structural and functional alterations in the muscles of the stomatognathic system.

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