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How hard can you bite?

Scientists from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a novel device made of a fibre Bragg grating to measure the force exerted with a bite.

The maximum voluntary bite force is the force exerted on an object placed between the two rows of teeth, while biting into it. The force is a result of three components; muscle of mastication-- the muscles which help the jaws move, the jaw, and teeth, together called the craniomandibular structure. The measure of force is considered as a good indicator of the state of the masticatory system- which allows animals to chew and crush the food.

To measure the force, the scientists made use of the fiber Bragg grating (FBG), a device which acts as an optical filter allowing certain wavelengths of lights to pass through, while blocking others. Sensors made of the FBG can be used to measure the differences in force, by measuring the different wavelengths of light emanating from an area where the force is applied.

The novel Bite Force Measurement Device (BMFD) consists of a non-invasive intraoral devices, which when bit into, can transfer the bite force into strain variations on a metal plate. This shows up as dents and valleys on the metals plate. Next, the FBG bonded to the metal plate reads the strain variations and provides a value for the force applied, much like studying the aftermath of an earthquake to study how powerful the quake was. The BMFD device also allows for an adjustable biting platform, which ensures the platform captures three essential positions of the teeth; incisor, pre-molar and molar sites. The three values together can provide an accurate picture of the health of the masticatory system and the bite force one exerts.

With the new device, the researchers went onto the measure the force exerted at each of the teeth positions- incision, premolar and molar, and compared them to each other. They have also compared the force differences in the bite force exerted by the different genders. The scientists believe “measurement of voluntary bite force provides useful data for the jaw muscle function and activity along with assessment of prosthetics”.