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J Oral Rehabil. 2011 Oct;38(10):754-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2842.2010.02197.x. Epub 2011 Jan 17.

Assessment of mastication with implications for oral rehabilitation: a review.

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Department of Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery, Prosthodontics and Special Dental Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


During chewing, food is reduced in size, while saliva moistens the food and binds the masticated food into a bolus that can be easily swallowed. Characteristics of the oral system, like number of teeth, bite force and salivary flow, will influence the masticatory process. Masticatory function of healthy persons has been studied extensively the last decades. These results were used as a comparison for outcomes of various patient groups. In this review, findings from literature on masticatory function for both healthy persons and patient groups are presented. Masticatory function of patients with compromised dentition appeared to be significantly reduced when compared with the function of healthy controls. The influence of oral rehabilitation, e.g. dental restorations, implant treatment and temporomandibular disorder treatment, on masticatory function will be discussed. For instance, implant treatment was shown to have a significant positive effect on both bite force and masticatory performance. Also, patient satisfaction with an implant-retained prosthesis was high in comparison with the situation before implant treatment. The article also reviews the neuromuscular control of chewing. The jaw muscle activity needed to break solid food is largely reflexly induced. Immediate muscle response is necessary to maintain a constant chewing rhythm under varying food resistance conditions. Finally, the influence of food characteristics on the masticatory process is discussed. Dry and hard products require more chewing cycles before swallowing than moist and soft foods. More time is needed to break the food and to add enough saliva to form a cohesive bolus suitable for swallowing.

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