Background: Chewing ability and handgrip strength can be independent explanatory factors of physical fitness. The usability of measurement procedures for assessing chewing function in people with dementia seems to be limited. This study aimed to show an association between handgrip strength and chewing function to enable the use of handgrip strength measurement as an alternative for determining chewing parameters in people with dementia. METHODS: The data analysed here are part of the OrBiD (Oral Health, Bite Force and Dementia) pilot study. A total of 120 participants were assigned to five evaluation groups based on their cognitive abilities using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). The MMSE groups in this data analysis were "no dementia" (noDem, MMSE 28-30), "mild cognitive impairment" (mCI, MMSE 25-27), and "mild dementia" (mDem, MMSE 18-24). Handgrip strength, maximum occlusal force, and chewing efficiency were measured. RESULTS: The Mini-Mental State Examination scores among all participants (n = 71) resulted in a median of 27 and a range of 18-30. An association between maximum handgrip strength and the cognitive impairment of the participants was shown. Nevertheless, the use of handgrip strength measurement as an alternative for determining chewing function was not verified in this study.
Conclusions: The feasibility and reliability of chewing function measurements in people with dementia should be investigated. Existing measurement procedures may need to be adapted or new assessments may need to be developed to be usable in people with dementia.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03775772.
Keywords: Bite force; Chewing efficiency; Cognitive impairment; Dementia; Handgrip strength; Measurement; Mini-Mental State Examination