Although many studies have shown the relationships between oral function and nutrition and health, few reports have investigated the masticatory behaviors of older people. This study aimed to clarify the relationships between oral function and the masticatory behaviors and features of masticatory behaviors with oral hypofunction. A total of 98 community-dwelling independent older adults participated. Seven oral conditions related to oral hypofunction were examined, and the masticatory behaviors when consuming a rice ball were measured. The participants were divided into two groups according to the criteria for oral hypofunction, and the masticatory behaviors were compared. Furthermore, the relationship between masticatory performance and the number of chews was investigated. The chewing rate of the oral hypofunction group was slower than that of the no oral hypofunction group, but there was no difference in the number of chews and chewing time. The decreased tongue-lip motor function group showed a slower chewing rate, and the decreased tongue pressure group showed a smaller number of chews and shorter chewing time. No significant correlation was observed between masticatory performance and behavior. In conclusion, older adults with oral hypofunction chewed slowly due to decreased dexterity, while, even if oral and masticatory function decreased, no compensatory increase in the number of chews was observed.
Keywords: masticatory behaviors; masticatory performance; number of chews; oral function; oral hypofunction.