The effect of chewing exercise in preschool children on maximum bite force and masticatory performance

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Abstract

Background.

Mastication is a developing function affected by various factors. There is a need for further research on methods of promoting masticatory function in young children.

Aim.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of gum chewing exercise on the maximum bite force (MBF) and the masticatory performance of preschool children.

Design.

The study population included 98 preschool children age 4–6 years. MBF was measured by Occlusal Force-Meter®, and masticatory performance values were evaluated by using the colour-changeable chewing gum. The examinations were performed four times with an interval of 4 weeks. An exercise group of 70 subjects was instructed to chew the exercise gum twice daily for 5 min during a 4-week period. The chewing gum used for this study was specially developed with the physical property of maintaining hardness during chewing. A control group of 28 subjects was instructed not to chew any gum during the study period.

Results.

No significant differences were found between the exercise group and the control group in MBF and a* values at the start of the study. After 4 weeks of chewing exercise, MBF and a* values were significantly increased in the exercise group compared with those of the control group. These increases were maintained for 4 weeks after exercise had finished.

Conclusions.

Gum chewing exercise is effective to increase MBF and a* values of preschool children and the effects are maintained after exercise completion.

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