Despite a number of previous biomechanical studies on the zygomatic arch, unanswered questions remain about its three-dimensional loading and growth. Using young miniature swine, we have for the first time recorded strains from both the medial and lateral aspects of the squamosal bone during mastication and masseter muscle stimulation. Strains from the zygomatic bone flange and zygomatic arch growth data were also obtained from the same animals. A second study on a younger group of animals examined the growth of the zygomatic flange following partial removal of the masseter. Strain data indicated that the squamosal bone is bent out-of-plane and that this pattern of loading is quite different from that of the adjacent zygomatic bone, which experiences much lower strains with little evidence of out-of-plane bending. Surprisingly, strains were higher in the zygomatic flange during contralateral chews and contralateral masseter stimulations than during ipsilateral chews/stimulations. These strains proved to arise from movement of the condyle, explaining why partial removal of the masseter had little effect on the growth of the flange. Other growth results indicated an approximately threefold greater rate of subperiosteal deposition on the lateral surface of the squamosal bone than on the zygomatic bone. This difference in growth rate is attributed to the presence of sutures that contribute to the lateral displacement of the zygomatic bone but not the squamosal bone. This explanation does not exclude the possibility that the rapid apposition on the lateral squamosal surface is regulated by the high surface strains that result from out-of-plane bending.

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