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Incisive foramen

Recommended video: Inferior view of the base of the skull [23:24]
Structures seen on the inferior view of the base of the skull.

The incisive foramen, also called the incisive fossa, is an opening in the hard palate within the roof of the oral cavity. It is located close to the anterior margin of the palate, just posterior to the central incisor teeth and anterior to the point where the fused palatine processes of each maxilla meet at the intermaxillary suture in the midline. It is covered by a small, bulbous fold of mucosa known as the incisive papilla.

This unpaired, single opening serves as the entry point for the two incisive canals, one on each side of the maxilla. These canals act as conduits connecting the hard palate to the nasal cavity.

The incisive foramen acts as a passageway for the branches of the nasopalatine nerve, derived from the maxillary branch of the trigeminal nerve (CN V2). It transmits this nerve from the nasal cavity to the oral cavity, providing sensation to the oral mucosa posterior to the incisor teeth. Additionally, it transmits the terminal ends of the greater palatine vessels from the oral cavity to the nasal cavity.

Terminology English: Incisive foramen
Synonyms: Stensen's foramen, anterior palatine foramen, nasopalatine foramen

Foramen incisivum
Definition Opening at the anterior part of the hard palate, immediately behind the incisor teeth
Function Transmits the greater palatine vessels and the nasopalatine nerve

Learn more about the incisive foramen of the hard palate in the following study unit:

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