Background and aims: Intra-oral sensory function plays an important role in swallowing and food intake, yet the impact of aging on oral tactile perception is uncertain. This study examined the effects of age, ethnicity, and gender on tactile perception at specific intra-oral sites in a community-based sample of 372 Mexican-Americans (MAs) and European-Americans (EAs). Methods: Four levels of air-pressure were delivered to sites on the anterior and posterior thirds of the tongue and on the velum. Intensity judgments for suprathreshold air puffs were obtained with a direct scaling procedure. Data were analyzed by mixed model multivariate repeated measures ANOVA. Results: Mean judgments of intensity, slopes of intensity functions and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) for intensity judgments, indicated that stimuli delivered to the anterior tongue elicited significantly larger and more consistent responding than at the other sites. MAs produced lower mean stimulus intensity judgments for all sites compared to EAs. No significant age-, gender- or ethnic group-related differences were found at any of the sites for the slopes of the intensity functions or for ICCs. Conclusions: Stimuli are judged more intense at the anterior tongue compared to the posterior tongue or velum and EAs gave higher estimates of intensity than did MAs. However, there are no age-, gender-, or ethnic group-related differences for the repeatability of intensity judgments or the slopes of intensity functions. Intra-oral tactile perception seems to be preserved during aging.
- Intra-oral tactile sensitivity
- Oral function
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology