The inferior alveolar nerve is a sensory branch of the mandibular nerve, that arises from its posterior division. It innervates all the mandibular teeth as well as the gingiva.
The Mandibular nerve (CN V3) is itself the third division of the fifth cranial nerve, the trigeminal nerve . It is the largest division of the trigeminal nerve and it carries both sensory and motor fibers. After exiting the skull through the foramen ovale, the mandibular nerve gives off a meningeal branch and divides into anterior and posterior divisions.
The anterior division of the mandibular nerve is smaller and carries mostly motor fibers, however, it does give rise to one sensory branch - the buccal nerve. On the other hand, the posterior division of the mandibular nerve is larger. It gives rise to mostly sensory branches.
The inferior alveolar nerve, which is a sensory nerve, is the largest branch that arises from the posterior division of the mandibular nerve. Before entering the mandibular canal, the inferior alveolar nerve gives rise to the mylohyoid nerve which carries motor fibers. Once the inferior alveolar nerve enters the mandibular canal through the mental foramen, it runs along with the inferior alveolar artery and gives off branches to the teeth and gums of the lower dental arch. Aside from supplying the mandibular teeth and the gingiva, the inferior alveolar nerve also gives off the mental nerve which emerges through the mental foramen and innervates the skin of the chin, as well as the skin and mucosa of the lower lip.
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