Chewing is the first phase in the digestive process. Its purpose is to break up and soften the food to be ingested. The degree of fragmentation depends on a number of factors, such as chewing force generated by the chewing muscles, the number and the morphology of the (pre)molars, the neuromuscular control of the movements of the mandible and the quantity and quality of the saliva. To enable an effective chewing process, form and function have to be well controlled. Disorders of function and maladjustments in form may cause complaints in temporomandibular joints (temporomandibular dysfunction, myofascial pain). These complaints are mostly accompanied by a hampered chewing function. Research on the mechanisms of these functional processes may help to better understand clinical abnormalities.
eywords: masticatory performance, neuromuscular control, food