The purpose of this study was to clarify quantitatively the differences in tongue-tip motion among the dentulous elderly people and also among the elderly edentulous, both with and without their dentures and, to identify the influence of tooth loss and denture wear on tongue-tip motion. Fourteen young dentulous people, 12 elderly dentulous people and 13 elderly edentulous people participated in this study. Subjects were asked to swallow a 10 mL barium sulfate solution three times. The elderly edentulous people were asked to swallow the solution while wearing dentures and with dentures removed. Functional swallowing was recorded on cine-film with a digital subtraction angiography system. Lateral cinefluorography images were obtained from seated subjects. Using a cine-projector, the movements of the tongue surface were traced as dots and lines frame by frame on a single tracing sheet within a definite period of time from the beginning of the oral phase to the end of the pharyngeal phase. With counting the number of 'trajectories' of tongue-tip motion, tongue movements were classified as 'stable' and 'hyperactive' types. The results was that significantly more 'hyperactive' type subjects were found among the elderly edentulous who were not wearing dentures (12 of 13) compared with the dentulous young (1 of 14), the elderly dentulous (1 of 13) or the elderly edentulous wearing dentures (1 of 13) (P < 0.001). The tongue-tip motion for the 'hyperactive' type was very complex and the tongue-tip anchoring against the palate was always instable.
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