Remote noxious stimuli modulate jaw reflexes evoked by activation of periodontal ligament mechanoreceptors in man

Andrew G. Mason, Brendan J. J. Scott, Hilbert W. Van der Glas, Roger W. A. Linden, Samuel W. Cadden

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    The purpose of the study was to investigate whether jaw reflexes evoked by selective stimulation of periodontal ligament mechanoreceptors are susceptible to modulation by remote noxious stimulation. Experiments were performed on 10 volunteer subjects. Skin surface recordings were made from the jaw-closing masseter muscle. The subjects activated the muscle to approximately 10% of maximum by biting on a rubber impression of their molar teeth while they received visual feedback of the electromyogram (EMG) of the muscle. Reflexes were produced by the application of gentle mechanical stimuli to an upper central incisor tooth. The stimuli were in the form of ‘ramp and hold’ forces with a 5 ms rise-time and a 1.5 N plateau which lasted 350ms. The resulting reflexes were recorded both under control conditions and while the subjects received a remote noxious stimulus (immersion of a hand in water at 3°C). In all 10 subjects, the stimuli produced a single period of inhibition of masseteric activity (latency, 12.8 ± 0.4 ms; duration, 18.1 ± 1.3 ms; means ± S.E.M.), which was usually followed by a period of increased masseteric activity. The period of inhibition constituted a downward wave in full-wave rectified, averaged signals. The integrals of such waves were significantly smaller (by 17 ± 6.5 %; P = 0.027; Student’s t test) when the reflex was evoked during remote noxious stimulation rather than under control conditions. As such reflexes are believed to play a modulatory role during normal oral function, this finding may be relevant to disorders of mastication associated with pain.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)699-706
    Number of pages8
    JournalExperimental Physiology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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