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Keywords:

  • swallowing;
  • electromyography;
  • supine position;
  • mouth opening;
  • head position;
  • suprahyoid muscles

Summary

Head position and mouth opening in the supine position may impair the ability to swallow. If this does occur, it would lead to retention of intra-oral fluids during dental treatment, which would lead to stimulation of the cough reflex. This study was conducted to investigate how head position and mouth opening affect swallowing ability. The water swallowing test was performed in 13 healthy adult subjects in the supine position. The subjects were asked to swallow 10 mL of water that was injected into the mouth in a single attempt. After swallowing, the residual intra-oral water was suctioned and its volume was measured. An electromyogram (EMG) of the suprahyoid (SH) muscles was also recorded during the test. The duration of SH muscle activity and peak amplitude of SH EMG were examined. The water swallowing test was performed under three head positions (neutral, extended and flexed) and four mouth opening patterns (interincisal distances of 0, 20, 30 and 40 mm). The wider the subject opened the mouth, the more the water remained in the mouth after swallowing. The residual volume of water was more in the extended position compared with that in the neutral and flexed positions. Peak amplitude of SH EMG decreased with mouth opening. Duration of SH muscle activity was longer in the extended position than in the neutral and flexed positions. Head extension and mouth opening can induce difficulty in swallowing in the supine position by extending the duration of SH muscle activity while reducing its intensity.