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Arch Oral Biol. 1993 Jul;38(7):589-96.

The association between chewing efficiency and occlusal contact area in man.

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Department of Oral Biology, University of the Western Cape, Mitchells Plain, South Africa.


Chewing is influenced by a number of factors, which include jaw and tongue movements, the activity of circumoral muscles, bite force and hard oral surfaces, but it is not clear which of these factors is most crucial to efficiency. The mere presence of surfaces such as the hard palate, or teeth, does not insure that chewing will be efficient. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between occlusal contact area, and chewing efficiency and to observe the influence of chewing-side preference on efficiency. These variables were recorded for both left- and right-hand sides, in a sample of 26 normal young adults. Chewing efficiency was estimated by the size of food particles collected after a predetermined number of chewing strokes. The particles were measured using image analysis and the median size calculated. Comparisons were made, firstly within subjects, between the left- and right-hand side, and secondly between subjects. Correlations were found between chewing efficiency and occlusal contact area which were more pronounced within, than between, subjects. It was concluded that while occlusal contact area influenced chewing efficiency within the same individual, it could not account for the differences in chewing efficiency found between individuals. Differences in the movement of the jaw and in the bite force may have a greater influence on chewing efficiency than occlusal contact area.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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