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Models of Masticatory Mechanics: Their Reliability, Resolving Power and Usefulness in Functional Morphology

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For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

On basis of assumed proportionality between muscle cross-section and maximal force, classic models of the mammalian masticatory apparatus have given a good description of the statics of isometric biting. Using this method the functional relevance could be indicated of the distribution of muscle bulk over the masseter, temporalis and pterygoid muscles and the orientation of these muscles. This paper describes the application of muscle models to analyse masticatory activity. They take into account both the anatomical and physiological properties of the muscles. Model input is the anatomy and electromyographical activity of the muscles and the produced jaw movement pattern. Output are the length changes and external force of the individual muscles in the course of mastication. Model output was tested by comparing predicted and measured sarcomere length at certain jaw positions, predicted and measured muscle force in acute muscle preparations and alveolar bone strain (as a measure of bite force) and predicted bite force during natural mastication. The models proved able to reproduce the time course and maximal amplitude of the bone strain. Using these models makes it possible to give a detailed description of the mechanics of the process of mastication and to gain insight in the way the physiological, anatomical and architectural properties of the masticatory muscles influence masticatory function.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Academic Center for Dentistry Amsterdam-ACTA-, 15 Meibergdreef, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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