Masticatory efficiency in individuals with extensive tooth loss has been widely discussed. However, little is known about jaw movement smoothness during chewing and the effect of differences in food bolus location on movement smoothness and masticatory efficiency. The aim of this study was to determine whether experimental differences in food bolus location (anterior versus posterior) had an effect on masticatory efficiency and jaw movement smoothness. Jaw movement smoothness was evaluated by measuring jerk-cost (calculated from acceleration) with an accelerometer that was attached to the skin of the mentum of 10 asymptomatic subjects, and acceleration was recorded during chewing on two-colour chewing gum, which was used to assessed masticatory efficiency. Chewing was performed under two conditions: posterior chewing (chewing on molars and premolars only) and anterior chewing (chewing on canine and first premolar teeth only). Jerk-cost and masticatory efficiency (calculated as the ratio of unmixed azure colour to the total area of gum, the unmixed fraction) were compared between anterior and posterior chewing with the Wilcoxon signed rank test (two-tailed). Subjects chewed significantly less efficiently during anterior chewing than during posterior chewing (P = 0·0051). There was no significant difference in jerk-cost between anterior and posterior conditions in the opening phase (P = 0·25), or closing phase (P = 0·42). This is the first characterisation of the effect of food bolus location on jaw movement smoothness at the same time as recording masticatory efficiency. The data suggest that anterior chewing decreases masticatory efficiency, but does not influence jerk-cost.