September 2012

Would you bite on this for science?

Giovanni_Borelli _Instrument.jpgThe strength of one’s bite and the force used to chew food appear to have intrigued dental students for centuries. The earliest investigation of jaw strength on record dates to 1681 in Rome by Professor Giovanni Borelli of the Jesuit College (see picture at right). The value of the early studies on bite force and jaw muscle strength was mainly in satisfying curiosity, however later interest existed in the effect of functional demands on tissue health and development.

Gnathodynamometer.jpgIn 1936, the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry determined that the principle difficulty encountered by researchers studying the muscles of mastication was the lack of an instrument to accurately measure the pressure exerted by the jaws. Along with the University of Minnesota Scientific Instrument Shop, the School of Dentistry developed the “Gnathodynamometer of the School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota”. Would you bite on this for science?

For more information on this instrument or on the School of Dentistry’s history, please visit the University Archives.