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Swallowing changes related to chronic temporomandibular disorders

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To investigate whether chronic temporomandibular disorder (TMD) patients showed any changes in swallowing compared to a control group. Moreover, it was examined whether swallowing variables and a valid clinic measure of orofacial myofunctional status were associated.

Material and methods

Twenty-three patients with chronic TMD, diagnosed with disc displacement with reduction (DDR) and pain, according to the Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (DC/TMD), and 27 healthy volunteers (control group) were compared. Surface electromyography (EMG) of the temporalis, masseter, sternocleidomastoid, and suprahyoid muscles was performed during swallowing tasks of thin liquid (10 and 15 mL) and spontaneous saliva. Data were normalized.


Compared to the control group, TMD patients showed a prolonged duration of swallowing for liquid and saliva and required a longer time to reach the activity peak and half the integral. While the overall mean value of the relative peaks was similar for the groups, the suprahyoid peak was significantly lower in the TMD group during swallowing of liquid. Moreover, TMD patients recruited the jaw elevator muscles proportionally more than controls. The orofacial myofunctional status was moderately correlated with EMG parameters.


Patients with chronic TMD showed temporal prolongation and changes in the relative activity of the muscles during the swallowing tasks.

Clinical relevance

The present results contribute additional evidence regarding the reorganization of muscle activity in patients with chronic TMD.

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This study was funded by Provost’s Office for Research of the University of São Paulo (Process No. 11.1.21626.01.7) and National Council for Scientific and Technological Development – Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology (Process No. 30.8689/2016-0). The first author received a fellowship from the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES), Brazil.

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Correspondence to Cláudia Maria de Felício.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University Hospital, Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto (USP) (protocol number 1.680.129) and performed in accordance with the Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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All participants gave written informed consent to participate in the study.

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Fassicollo, C.E., Machado, B.C.Z., Garcia, D.M. et al. Swallowing changes related to chronic temporomandibular disorders. Clin Oral Invest 23, 3287–3296 (2019).

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