The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of chewing force on salivary stress markers (alpha-amylase activity, salivary cortisol level and secretory immunoglobulin A secretion rate) as indicators of mental stress. Participants comprised 20 healthy men. The first set of saliva specimens (S1) was collected at immediately after a 20-min rest to evaluate stress markers. As stress loading, the participants were required to perform arithmetic calculations for 20 min, after which the second set of saliva specimens (S2) was collected. Each participant was then required to chew a piece of tasteless gum for 10 min, after which the third set of saliva specimens (S3) was collected. After a 20-min rest, the fourth set of saliva specimens (S4) was collected. Weak, habitual and strong chewing forces were assigned. Change rates of stress markers between S2 and S3, and S2 and S4 were calculated. A significant difference was observed in the change rate of cortisol levels between S2 and S3. Cortisol level decreased more under strong chewing than under weak chewing. No significant differences were observed in the change rate of amylase activity or s-IgA secretion rate among the three chewing forces. The results suggest that differences in chewing force influence the salivary cortisol level of the three stress markers, and that a strong chewing force induces a greater reduction in mental stress than a weak one.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.