Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if a surface electromyography (sEMG) assessment of swallowing is better at identifying Oral Muscular Dysfunction (OMD) than a clinical evaluation (observation & digital palpation) of swallowing. The assessment was conducted on children ages 9 to 17, who were patients at the Orthodontic Department at Loma Linda University, School of Dentistry. Additionally, the prevalence of a “perceived” swallowing dysfunction was assessed.

Methods: This study included 39 randomly selected subjects from the orthodontic patients at Loma Linda University. Each subject’s “dry” swallow was evaluated using two separate methods: (a) sEMG and (b) digital palpation of the masticatory muscles (clinical analysis). A comparison was made on the specificity of recognizing a dysfunctional swallow between the two methods. Ranks were assigned to each subject based on three separate parameters for each method. A two-sampled binomial test at a significance level of α=0.05 was used to test if sEMG is better at identifying OMD.


1. Both the sEMG module and the clinical analysis detected with equal accuracy the contraction of the masseter muscles and the suprahyoid muscles during an active swallow,

2. The procedures were equally accurate in detecting the timing of the onset of activation/contraction between right and left masseter muscles.

3. Both procedures detected asymmetric masseter contraction/amplitude with equal accuracy.


1. There was no statistically significant difference between the sEMG analysis and the clinical analysis in recognizing a dysfunctional swallowing pattern.

2. An sEMG assessment of a patient’s swallowing pattern appears to be clinically significant, because of the additional information made available to the practitioner via a graphic representation of the patient’s muscular patterns.

3. Approximately 70 percent of the orthodontic patient population at Loma Linda University, as represented by this sample, present with OMD.

LLU Discipline

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics


Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics


Graduate School

First Advisor

James Farrage

Second Advisor

Joseph Caruso

Third Advisor

Leroy Leggitt

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Deglutition -- physiology -- dissertations; Deglutition Disorders -- therapy; Deglutition Disorders -- diagnosis; Deglutition disorders -- child; Electromyography -- methods; Masseter Muscle -- physiology.



Page Count

xi; 42

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives