One story that caught our eye this month was the simulated 100m race between swimmer Michael Phelps and a great white shark. Programmes on the Discovery Channel celebrating Shark Week 2017 also highlighted an innovative experiment to measure the force of a great white shark’s bite.
Previous measurements had put the bite force at 6000N. By creating a shark prey-shaped mould mounted with load cells and encouraging the shark to take a bite, the team measured a bite force of 10,000 N. This is the equivalent of a car hitting a wall at over 160km/h. In a similar style experiment for Spike TV’s “Deadliest Warrior” program, researchers measured the bite of an alligator at nearly 1,800lbs.
Chew it over
Load cells have been used in bite force analysis for a variety of reasons. One of these is chewing, a function we all take so much for granted, we rarely appreciate the complex interaction of muscles, joints, glands, nerves, teeth and bone that make chewing effective.
As we age, we lose some of of our facial muscle force. The force we apply when closing our jaw is pretty consistent until the age of 50, when it declines. The force we apply when biting down decreases early, after the age of 45 in men and 25 in women. Various research has been done into why men retain more force for longer, which may be due to simple anatomy. Males having larger masseter muscles than females, and often have a larger dental size, resulting in larger periodontal ligament areas. (**)
Note analysis for bariatric surgery candidates
Bite analysis is an accurate way to measure the function and health of the human masticatory system. This has proved important for assessing patients for bariatric surgery, as the proper chewing of food is an important element of the effectiveness of post-surgery weight loss. Analysis can also help monitor improvement to bite and or chewing after therapy or facial surgery.
Dentures and teeth
Bite force is also extremely useful in assessing the performance of dentures. A team from the Tsurumi University School of Dental Medicine used load cells to create a three dimensional measurement of bite force to evaluate the function of complete dentures.
How much force does it take to chew a biscuit?
By implanting a load cell into the dental arch of a volunteer subject who had previously lost his upper first molar, scientists were able to measure the force involved in the mastication of biscuits. So, next time you bite into a digestive, you’re probably using a peak normal force of 133 N and a tangential force of 39 N.
Load cells for dental and other research
As specialist load cell designers and manufacturers, we work with you to create the ideal load cell set-up for your needs. Call us to discuss your requirements.
(**) Single tooth bite forces in healthy young adults. • Ferrario VF, Sforza C, Serrao G, Dellavia C, Tartaglia GM, J Oral Rehabil. 2004 Jan; 31(1):18-22.