Cyclic soft palate elevation is temporally associated with masticatory jaw movement. However, the soft palate is normally lowered during nasal breathing to maintain retropalatal airway patency. We tested the hypothesis that the frequency and amplitude of soft palate elevation associated with mastication would be reduced during inspiration. Movements of radiopaque soft palate markers were recorded by videofluorography while 11 healthy volunteers ate solid foods. Breathing was monitored with plethysmography. Masticatory sequences were divided into processing and stage II transport cycles (food transport to the oropharynx before swallowing). In food processing, palatal elevation was less frequent and its displacement was smaller during inspiration than expiration. In stage II transport, the soft palate was elevated less frequently during inspiration than expiration. These findings suggest that masticatory soft palate movement is diminished during inspiration. The control of breathing appears to have a significant effect on soft palate elevation in mastication.
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