Chew on this: is there a dominant side for chewing?

J Mass Dent Soc. 2001 Summer;50(2):36-8.


It is well known that individuals tend to favor either their left or their right hand. Medical professionals further acknowledge the existence of a dominant foot and eye. Whether we have a dominant side for chewing has not yet been established, but if so, does it correspond with our favored hand? Based on Decayed, Missing, and Filled (DMF) scores, researchers wonder whether the side of the mouth on which an individual predominantly chews in-fluences the amount of dental treatment a person has had or is in need of. This paper shows results of a survey of 112 people to determine if a pattern of DMF scores is predicative of a dominant side for chewing. In addition to a brief written survey, respondents underwent a complete oral and radiographic exam. Any decayed, missing, and filled surfaces were counted on both the right and left quadrants. These figures were then compared with the answers from the questionnaire to determine if any correlation could be made between DMF scores, age, gender, dominant hand, and eating and brushing habits. Results show that, in general, women believe they chew more on one side than the other, whereas men feel they chew on both sides equally. No statistically significant correlation was found between the hand that holds the fork, the side of the mouth chewed on, and the DMF score. This study did not confirm the existence of a dominant side of the mouth with respect to chewing.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DMF Index
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires