9 junio, 2024

Muscles of the face: description and functions (with pictures)

The Muscles of the face, which are also known as craniofacial muscles, are those muscles that are associated with the bones of our head; they allow us to move our jaws to chew and make facial expressions, among other things.

The bones of the head belong to the part of our skeleton known as the axial skeleton, where the bones of the skull, neck, rib cage, and spine are classified.

All these bones fulfill very important functions in the protection of our internal organs, that is to say: the brain and spinal cord, the heart, the lungs and the rest of the viscera.

The muscles that allow the movement of the different structures of our face are striated skeletal muscles, since they are related to the bones of our head. These are found under the skin of our face and scalp, between the skin and the bones.

Functions of the muscles of the face

The muscles of the face are striated skeletal muscles, which means that they are composed of elongated muscle cells -muscle fibers- which, when viewed under a microscope, present a characteristic banding pattern, with interspersed transverse bands, some light and others dark. (see more on skeletal muscle).

Unlike other skeletal muscles, the muscles of the face are not covered by a thin layer of connective tissue called fascia, and they have a more complex pattern of nerve connections than most muscles in the rest of the body. .

These muscles are spatially located “around” the facial orifices or “openings”, such as the eyes, mouth, nose, and ears, and also stretch across the skull and neck. Many originate in the bones of the skull and extend, inserting into the skin.

There are two main functions of the muscles of the face:

Chewing and speech, essential for the initial processing of food and for communication. The development of facial expressions, contributing significantly to social relationships.

The muscles that are responsible for facial expressions, that is, those that allow us to smile and frown, are connected to the central nervous system through facial nerve VII and receive blood from an artery called the facial artery.

Muscles of the face

The muscles of the face, depending on their functions, are usually classified into two groups: those for chewing and those for facial expressions.

chewing muscles

temporal muscle: which is born in the lateral part of the skull, above the temporal bone.
Medial pterygoid muscle: connected with the lower jaw bone.
Lateral pterygoid muscle: originates from the lower portion of the sphenoid bone, in the middle part of the base of the skull.
masseter muscle: It is one of the strongest muscles in the body, it can exert a force of up to 90 kg and it is the muscle that is responsible for raising and closing the jaw.

It must also be said that the buccinator muscle, which belongs to the group of facial muscles of the mouth, also participates in the chewing process as an accessory muscle.

facial muscles

According to the region to which they belong, they are classified into four groups:

Also known as the muscles of the «bucolabial» group, these muscles are the ones that control the movements and shape of the mouth and lips.

There are 11 muscles that are responsible for: raising and removing the upper lip, turning it upside down (everting it); depress and evert lower lip; close the lips and compress the cheeks. These muscles are:

Orbicularis of the mouth muscle: “circular” muscle that surrounds the mouth and forms most of the lips.
buccinator muscle: It is the muscular base of the cheeks and fills the space between the maxilla and the mandible.
levator labia superior muscle.
lower lip depressor muscle.
levator muscle of the upper lip and wing of the nose.
mental muscle (of the chin): a muscle found in the jaw that has a conical shape.
risorius muscle: are two muscles, one on each side of the mouth, which extend horizontally to the zygomatic arch.
Levator muscle of the angle of the mouth: It is located on both sides of the nose.
Depressor angle of the mouth muscle: It is located in the lower area of ​​the mouth, in the jaw, on the sides of the mental muscle.
zygomaticus major muscle.
zygomaticus minor muscle.

These muscles, of course, are at the front of our face, around the lips.

The muscles of the nose are closely related to the development of facial expressions, but they also have an important role in breathing, since they control the opening of the nostrils. They are two muscles:

nasal muscle: which is divided into two parts, one wing and the other transverse. It is located on both sides of the back of the nose.
procerus muscle: is the muscle connected to the nose that is between the eyes, between the eyebrows, arises from the nasal bone and the upper part of the lateral nasal cartilage, extends in a fan shape towards the lower part of the forehead.

eyelid muscles

It is the group of muscles that allows us to open and close our eyes to look, when we sleep, to prevent debris from getting into our eyes, etc. It comprises the following muscles:

orbicularis oculi muscle: having three parts, one associated with the eye sockets, another with the lacrimal ducts, and another with the eyelids.
superciliary (corrugator) muscle: is an elongated muscle; there are two, one above each eye, which are found under the eyebrows, up to the final middle part of them.

Muscles of the skull and neck

They are the muscles that allow us to raise our eyebrows, frown, or make astonished facial expressions. The muscles of the neck also belong to this group, which participate in the opening of the mouth (through the movement of the jaw) and in the depression movements of the corners of the mouth and the lower lip. These muscles are:

occipitofrontalis muscle: a broad muscle that is located in most of the forehead and scalp, ending in the eyebrows. It has two parts, one frontal and one occipital.
platysma muscle: It is a flat muscle, shaped like a sheet or sheet, which is located in the front part of the neck, under the jaw; it extends from the jaw to the shoulders and reaches part of the thorax.

External ear muscles

Also known as auricular muscles, they are a set of thin, fan-like muscles that are responsible for connecting the auricle of the ear (where earrings are placed) with the scalp and allow us to perform certain movements of the auricle. There are three muscles:

anterior auricular muscle.
posterior auricular muscle.
superior auricular muscle.

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