Fighting Against Disuse of the Masticatory System in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients report masticatory problems. The aim was to determine the effectiveness of mastication training in Duchenne muscular dystrophy using chewing gum for 4 weeks. In all, 17 patients and 17 healthy age-matched males participated. The masticatory performance was assessed using a mixing ability test and measuring anterior bite force before, shortly before and 1 month after the training. In the patient group the masticatory performance improved and was sustained after 1-month follow-up, no significant changes in anterior maximum bite force was observed after mastication training. In the healthy subject the bite force increased and remained at the 1-month follow-up; no significant differences in masticatory performance were observed. Mastication training by using sugar-free chewing gum in Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients benefited their masticatory performance. Since bite force did not improve, the working mechanism of the improvement in chewing may relate to changes of the neuromuscular function and coordination, yielding an improvement of skills in performing mastication.