The objective was to explore quantitative methods for the measurement of lip mobility and lip force and to relate these to qualitative assessments of lip function. Fifty healthy adults (mean age 45 years) and 23 adults with diagnoses affecting the facial muscles (mean age 37 years) participated in the study. Diagnoses were Möbius syndrome (n=5), Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (n=6) and Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (n=12). A system for computerised 3D analysis of lip mobility and a lip force meter were tested, and the results were related to results from qualitative assessments of lip mobility, speech (articulation), eating ability and saliva control. Facial expressions studied were open mouth smile and lip pucker. Normative data and cut-off values for adults on lip mobility and lip force were proposed, and the diagnostic value of these thresholds was tested. The proposed cut-off values could identify all inviduals with moderate or severe impairment of lip mobility but not always the milder cases. There were significant correlations between the results from quantitative measurements and qualitative assessments. The examined instruments for measuring lip function were found to be reliable with an acceptable measuring error. The combination of quantitative and qualitative ways to evaluate lip function made it possible to show the strong relation between lip contraction, lip force, eating ability and saliva control. The same combination of assessments can be used in the future to study if oral motor exercises aimed at improving lip mobility and strength could have a positive effect on lip function.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.