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Keywords:

  • bone strain;
  • chewing;
  • masticatory system;
  • modelling

Abstract

During mastication, various biomechanical events occur at the mammalian jaw symphysis. Previously, these events have been studied in the static environment, or by direct recording of surface bone strains. Thus far, however, it has not been possible to demonstrate directly the forces and torques passing through the symphysis in association with dynamically changing muscle tensions. Therefore, we modified a previously published dynamic pig jaw model to predict the forces and torques at the symphysis, and related these to simulated masticatory muscle tensions, and bite, joint and food bolus forces. An artificial rigid joint was modelled at the symphysis, allowing measurements of the tri-axial forces and torques passing through it. The model successfully confirmed three previously postulated loading patterns at the symphysis. Dorsoventral shear occurred when the lower teeth hit the artificial food bolus. It was associated with balancing-side jaw adductor forces, and reaction forces from the working-side bite point. Medial transverse bending occurred during jaw opening, and was associated with bilateral tensions in the lateral pterygoid. Lateral transverse bending (wishboning) occurred at the late stage of the power stroke, and was associated with the actions of the deep and superficial masseters. The largest predicted force was dorsoventral shear force, and the largest torque was a ‘wishboning’ torque about the superoinferior axis. We suggest that dynamic modelling offers a new and powerful method for studying jaw biomechanics, especially when the parameters involved are difficult or impossible to measure in vivo.