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Keywords:

  • bite force magnitude;
  • muscle strength;
  • muscle thickness;
  • ultrasonography

The aim of the present study was to investigate to what extent general factors (e.g. genotype, hormones) and factors at the craniofacial level (e.g. craniofacial size, jaw muscle architecture) contribute to the size and strength of the jaw muscles. A strong relationship of jaw muscle size and strength with that of other muscles would argue for general influences, whereas a weak relationship would argue for craniofacial influences. In 121 adult individuals, moments of maximal bite force, arm flexion force and leg extension force were measured. In addition, thicknesses of jaw muscles, arm flexor muscles and leg extensor muscles were measured using ultrasound. Relationships were assessed by using a principal component analysis. In females, one component was found in which all force moments were represented. Bite force moment, however, loaded very low. In males, two components were found. One component loaded for arm flexion and leg extension moments, the other loaded for bite force moments. In both females and males, only one component was found for the muscle thicknesses in which all muscle groups loaded similarly. It was concluded that the size of the jaw muscles was significantly related to the size of the limb muscles, suggesting that they were both subject to the same general influences. Maximal voluntary bite force moments were not significantly related to the moments of the arm flexion and leg extension forces, suggesting that besides the general influence on the muscle size, variation in bite force moment was also influenced by local variables, such as craniofacial morphology.