Natural bites, food consistency and feeding behaviour in man

Arch Oral Biol. 1996 Feb;41(2):175-89. doi: 10.1016/0003-9969(95)00112-3.


Complete feeding sequences (bite to terminal swallow) were recorded in 11 individuals (Class I occlusions) feeding on apple, banana and biscuit (hard cookie) to establish whether jaw movements characteristic of the stage I transport, chewing, stage II transport and swallowing processes found in non-human mammals could be identified in man. All participants took large natural bites (known weight) of each food, but seven were supplied standard 6-g pieces of apple. Jaw movements (three axes) were recorded using a locally calibrated Sirognathograph. Discrete stage I transport movements (bite moved from incisors to postcanines), were found in most records, but least frequently for banana. The number of chewing cycles before the first in-sequence swallow increased in the order: banana, ( = ) apple without peel, apple with peel, biscuit. Chewing cycles showed subtle changes in gape profile but significant variation in mediolateral movement cycle to cycle. Morphologically distinct stage II transport cycles could not be identified. Swallows occurred intermittently during chewing (79% of all sequences, n = 146) with cycle durations in excess of 1 s in contrast to the range for chewing (0.6-0.7 s). Almost all sequences ended with a period, clearance, of highly irregular jaw movements often including swallows. Clearance has not been described in other mammals. Food consistency affected feeding behaviour. The "chew/swallow' ratio (total number of chews/total number of swallows) increased with food hardness. The number of chewing cycles before the first in-sequence swallow also increased. Food type significantly affected sequence duration. The duration of clearance was also affected by bite weight and food hardness. It is concluded that initial food consistency determines the number of chewing cycles before the first swallow and overall sequence duration. The change in the pattern of jaw movement in both the vertical and mediolateral directions cycle to cycle suggests continuous sensory modulation of the motor output to the mandibular musculature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bite Force*
  • Deglutition / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food
  • Hardness
  • Humans
  • Jaw / physiology
  • Jaw Relation Record
  • Male
  • Mastication / physiology*
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Particle Size
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Time Factors