Stomatognathic Function Laboratory (SFL)
Financial support from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR) helped to establish the Stomatognathic Function Laboratory in 2005. Literal translation of the word stomatognathic (‘stoma’ and ‘gnathos’ from Greek meaning mouth and jaw) describes what is studied in the SFL - mouth and jaw function. The SFL was established to house advanced instrumentation to use in understanding specific aspects of oral function, especially of the jaw. Within iRSM, the lab assesses jaw function in people who have defects of the head and neck region; including people affected by head and neck cancer, trauma and congenital defects.
SFL equipment facilitates assessment of jaw function in several different ways: how the jaw moves during chewing, evaluation of how four different pairs of muscles work together during chewing, and overall chewing efficiency. This allows better understanding of how disorders such as muscle imbalances may play a role in problems with chewing and how more normal function can be achieved. Several questions are raised in the assessment: Do our interventions make any difference in how easily a patient can break food down into small pieces that are easily swallowed? What surgeries result in better ability to chew? What prostheses work better? By understanding jaw function, the SFL aims to continually improve treatments to reduce and eventually eliminate chewing dysfunction in iRSM's patient populations.