Science Reporting

Jaw adapts to food hardness: the harder it is, the stronger it becomes

The jaw adapts to the hardness of the food we chew: the harder it is, the stronger it becomes. This is the result of a group of researchers from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of Tokyo and the University of Kyoto, as well as the medical research agency.

In fact, during experiments on mice, the researchers discovered that if mice ate food that required more chewing power for a longer or shorter period of time, they developed more bone formation in the jaw, which in turn also had an impact on the shape of the jaw itself.

This is not a novelty at all since during the life of various animals, including humans, the bone and skeletal tissue is continually restructured in response to changes in the various forces that apply to them. For example, if you exercise for a medium to long period of time, you can have stronger bones. However, this is the first study to discover how and when the reconstruction of the jawbone takes place, particularly in response to food hardness.

By feeding various mice in the laboratory with harder food, the researchers were able to develop a computer model of rodent chewing that calculates changes in the structure of the mandible. Various hygienic histological analyses have also shown that the mechanical load on the mandible changes the expression of the cytokines of the osteocytes in the bone, which leads to an increase in the size of the bone itself.

“This discovery – that increased chewing itself can directly change the shape of the mandible – could facilitate the development of treatments for skeletal abnormalities, such as deformities of the mandible,” says Tomoki Nakashima, one of the authors of the study.