Masticatory muscles are closely involved in mastication, pronunciation, and swallowing, and it is therefore important to study the specific functions and dynamics of the mandibular and masticatory muscles. However, the shortness of muscle fibers and the diversity of movement directions make it difficult to study and simplify the dynamics of mastication. The purpose of this study was to use 3-dimensional (3D) simulation to observe the functions and movements of each of the masticatory muscles and the mandible while chewing. To simulate the masticatory movement, computed tomographic images were taken from a single Korean volunteer (30-year-old man), and skull image data were reconstructed in 3D (Mimics; Materialise, Leuven, Belgium). The 3D-reconstructed masticatory muscles were then attached to the 3D skull model. The masticatory movements were animated using Maya (Autodesk, San Rafael, CA) based on the mandibular motion path. During unilateral chewing, the mandible was found to move laterally toward the functional side by contracting the contralateral lateral pterygoid and ipsilateral temporalis muscles. During the initial mouth opening, only hinge movement was observed at the temporomandibular joint. During this period, the entire mandible rotated approximately 13 degrees toward the bicondylar horizontal plane. Continued movement of the mandible to full mouth opening occurred simultaneously with sliding and hinge movements, and the mandible rotated approximately 17 degrees toward the center of the mandibular ramus. The described approach can yield data for use in face animation and other simulation systems and for elucidating the functional components related to contraction and relaxation of muscles during mastication.
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