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Keywords

tongue, muscle strength, instrumentation

Abstract

The tongue plays an important role in the functions of speech, mastication, swallowing, and breathing. The tongue helps in the maintenance of proper dental alignment and arch stability. Adequate strength is essential for the tongue to perform these tasks. Recently the Biomechanical Engineering Group from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil, developed a device to improve tongue strength evaluation. The purpose of this study is to describe and compare the main results obtained in tongue protrusion force measurements in different age groups using this new device. Fifteen healthy subjects were given a qualitative evaluation and determined to have normal tongue strength. They were separated by age in three groups: children, adults and elderly. They were then given a quantitative evaluation. Maximum and average forces were analyzed. The time taken to reach maximum force was also assessed. Higher values of maximum and average tongue force were obtained in the adult group, followed by the elderly group and the group of children. Older subjects had greater tongue force when compared to children. However, there were statistically significant differences in the average force and in the maximum force only between children and adults. Time taken to reach maximal isometric force was longer in the elderly group and shorter in the group of children than in the group of adults although no statistically significant difference was found between groups.

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