The bones and muscles of the face and head

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Anatomy of the Face and Skull

Starting from the beginning, it is helpful to know about the anatomy of the face and head.

The Skull

The skull is composed of several bones, connected by sutures on the skull, and at the jawline we have the mandible, or jawbone which is very powerful for biting and chewing. The jaw joint is made up of the mandible, and the temporal bones, where they meet is the temporomandibular joint. The Temporomandibular joint, or TMJ is a unique joint which is both a sliding joint, and a hinge joint. Its unique characteristics make the jaw joint very powerful, but it also can cause a lot of dysfunction. We will discuss TMJ syndrome in another section.

Another noteworthy bony structure of the face are the temples. This is the tender area at the side of the head, just lateral to the eye sockets. Many individuals get headaches in this area. This area is the thinnest part of the skull. The temple area is the juncture of four of the bones of the skull; the temporal, frontal, parietal, and the sphenoid bones. Under this area travels one of the major arteries of the head, the middle meningeal artery, which supplies blood to the meninges of the brain.

The zygomatic bone travels from the top of the jaw bone, to the underside of the eye, and towards the nose. This is a dense bone, and is mostly of noteworthiness with facial cupping when we speak of the superior border of the zygomatic bone, which helps to create the orbit of the skull, where the eyes are housed.

When cupping the face, one does not want to perform cupping too close to the eyes, but stay on the edge of the orbital bones as the tissue on top of this area can get damaged very easily.


Muscles of the Face

There are many muscles on the face, a few of them are more important for this discussion.

The muscles that control facial expression are called mimentic muscles. These muscles are controlled by the facial nerve which has five main divisions.

  1. Temporal
  2. includes the frontalis muscle that lifts the eyebrows
  3. anterior and superior auriculur muscles that move the ear
  4. the corrugator muscle on the brow that creates the frown lines
  5. obicularis occuli closes the eyelids and contracts the muscles of the eye
  6. Zygomatic
  7. the zygomaticus major elevates the corners of the mouth for smiling
  8. Buccal
  9. levator labii elevate the upper lip
  10. levator labii superioris alaeque nasi dilates the nostril and elevates the upper lip, enabling one to snarl.
  11. The risorius and levator angulii oris are muscles that assist in smiling.
  12. The orbicularis encircles the mouth, closes and puckers the lips and is sometimes called the kissing muscle.
  13. The nasalis compresses the bridge of the nose and the nostrils.The buccal branches also assist the mandibular branches in pulling the mouth downwards for a frown, by the depressor anguli oris, and pulling the lower lip down with the depressor labii inferioris.
  14. This division supplies the platysma muscle of the neck, also a “frowning” muscle.
  15. Mandibular
  16. The mentalis pulls the skin on the chin upwards.
  17. Cervical
  18. This division supplies the platysma muscle of the neck, also a “frowning” muscle.