A reproducibility method to test lip-closing strength in preschool children.
ABSTRACT This cross-sectional study tested the reproducibility of a simple button-pulling system for measuring lip-closing strength in normal preschool children and compared their strength to that of normal adults. The sample consisted of 348 preschool children and 123 adults. Lip-closing strength was measured by inserting a button, fastened to a piece of string, into the vestibule between the incisors and lips with minimal mouth opening. The string was attached to a digital tension gauge and was pulled parallel to the floor. Maximum tension, with three repetitions, was recorded at the instant that the button was pulled out of the mouth. Multilevel statistical models were used to evaluate any differences in contractive muscle strength between age groups and between the genders. The strength in children increased significantly from three years to five years (p<0.01). Gender-related differences were found in adults but not in preschool children. Inter-individual variation at each age was larger than intra-individual variation. Measurement of lip-closing strength by button pulling is highly reproducible in children and has potential clinical and research applications.