The effects of masseter muscle pain on biting performance

J Oral Rehabil. 2003 Oct;30(10):978-84. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2842.2003.01159.x.


The present study applied a standardized test food of known hardness to evaluate the biting performance of 20 female patients who had pain mainly in the masseter muscle during palpation. Another 20 women of a similar age group who were pain-free during examination served as controls. Electromyograms (EMG) of the masseter and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles and the jaw position were recorded and measured when the subjects were biting through two types of test foods with known hardness (hard type, 20 kg hardness and extra-hard type, 60 kg hardness). Pressure-pain-threshold (PPT) values of both the patients and the normal subjects were obtained with an algometer. It was found that the PPT of the patients with pain was significantly lower and that the extra-hard food took more masseter muscle activity and more working side jaw movement in both the pain and the normal groups. During both hard and extra-hard food biting, a significantly longer duration of masseter muscle activity was found in pain patients while the total muscle activity was not significantly stronger. Strong correlation existed between SCM and masseter muscle activity during both hard and extra-hard food biting in the patient group, while such correlation was very weak in the normal group. In conclusion, painful masseter muscles required longer masseter and SCM muscle contraction time for breaking through a hard food of 20 kg and more, and co-activation of SCM and masseter muscles existed and was more evident when the food was harder or the pain was more severe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bite Force*
  • Body Height / physiology
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Muscles / physiopathology
  • Facial Pain / etiology
  • Facial Pain / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jaw / physiopathology
  • Masseter Muscle / physiopathology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Myofascial Pain Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Palpation
  • Pressure