Reliability of a visual analog scale for determining the preferred mastication side

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Statement of problem.

Although the visual analog scale (VAS) is a simple tool for quantitatively measuring symptom perception, no studies have used the VAS to assess the degree of subjective masticatory laterality.


The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability of the VAS for determining the preferred mastication side (PMS) and to compare it with other methods.

Material and methods.

A cross-sectional study was conducted in which 42 adults with natural dentition performed 2 masticatory sessions. Eight different methods were used to determine the PMS by combining different definitions, food tests, measurements, and number of cycles assessed. A test-retest was performed in 10 participants to evaluate the reliability of each method using the intraclass correlation coefficient. To assess the validity of the different methods, the Pearson correlations were performed (α=.05) between the 8 methods.


Self-assessment using the VAS had the highest reliability; it also had a positive and significant relationship with 6 of the 7 other methods. The method that showed the best validity used bagged silicone as the test food, determined the PMS by video recording, and assessed all masticatory cycles using the asymmetry index. Low reliability was found for methods using the location of gum bolus at standardized time intervals or electromyographic recordings.


The VAS provided a highly reliable means of assessing the degree of masticatory laterality perceived by the participant, with a positive and significant correlation with the majority of the other methods.

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