The objective of this study was to test masseter muscle activity and its variability and reliability in terms of repeatable measurements in fully dentate and healthy volunteers during habitual chewing and deliberate unilateral chewing. Three sessions were performed on three consecutive days, each time recording kinematic data and masseter muscle EMG activities through a series of defined jaw exercises, including maximum voluntary contraction, habitual chewing, and left and right unilateral chewing. Asymmetry index (AI) and deliberate chewing index (DCI) scores were used to evaluate the activities of the left and right masseter muscles, which were separately recorded during each of these chewing exercises. DCI scores were side-specific, including two sets of values for left and right unilateral chewing. Reproducibility testing of the values obtained for all parameters revealed good to excellent reproducibility of masseter muscle activity under standardized recording conditions across the consecutive study sessions, with intra-class correlation coefficients (ICCs) ranging from 0.68 to 0.93. Different individuals were found to utilize different strategies of bilateral masseter activation during both habitual chewing and deliberate unilateral chewing.
Keywords: electromyography, muscle activity, muscle work, asymmetry index, maximum voluntary contraction, chewing process, masticatory muscles