German Contact How to study Login Register

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!

Sidebar ebook trimmed

Masseter Muscle

The masseter muscle is a thick, rectangular muscle of mastication.


It consists of a superficial and a deep part, both originating from the zygomatic arch.

Masseter muscle - lateral-left view

Masseter muscle - lateral-left view

The superficial part inserts on the masseteric tuberosity at the outer surface of the mandibular angle, whereas the deep part runs further dorsally to the outer surface of the mandibular ramus. At that point, the muscle can be easily palpated from the oral cavity along the cheek. Furthermore, part of the deep fibers radiates into the anterior capsule and articular disc of the temporomandibular joint.

Deep part of masseter muscle - dorsal view

Deep part of masseter muscle - dorsal view

The parotid gland lies on the lateral side of the masseter with its duct coursing underneath the zygomatic arch across the muscle. As all muscles of mastication, the masseter is supplied by a branch of the mandibular nerve, the masseteric nerve.

Masseteric nerve - lateral-left view

Masseteric nerve - lateral-left view


The masseter is one of the four muscles of the masticatory apparatus. It elevates the mandible causing a powerful jaw closure. The contraction of the superior part which runs diagonally to the front moves the mandible forward (protrusion). Furthermore, the muscle helps stabilize tension of the articular capsule of the temporomandibular joint.

Recommended video: Masseter muscle
Origin, insertion, innervation and functions of the masseter muscle.

Clinical Aspects

The routine neurological examination includes testing of the jaw jerk reflex, also known as the masseter or mandibular reflex. The examiner places his index finger on the chin of the patient and taps the finger with the reflex hammer. In healthy people the stretch of the masseter provokes an upward movement of the mandible.

In order to produce better results, it is helpful to ask the patient to relax and slightly open his or her mouth and close the eyes. A pathological jaw jerk reflex can indicate a lesion of the trigeminal nerve but if this seems rather unlikely (e.g. intact facial sensation, well developed masseter muscles on both sides etc.) one has to consider a brainstem lesion.

Get me the rest of this article for free
Create your account and you'll be able to see the rest of this article, plus videos and a quiz to help you memorize the information, all for free. You'll also get access to articles, videos, and quizzes about dozens of other anatomy systems.
Create your free account ➞
Show references


  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1st edition, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), p. 184-185
  • N. Schwenzer/M. Ehrenfeld: Mund-Kiefer-Gesichtschirurgie, 4th edition, Thieme Verlag (2011), p. 25 B.
  • Reichert: Anatomie in vivo, Thieme Verlag (2007), p. 235-236
  • A. Bumann/U. Lotzmann: Color atlas of dental medicine – TMJ disorders and orofacial pain, Thieme Verlag (2002), p. 35
  • P. Urban: Erkrankungen des Hirnstamms, Schattauer (2009), p. 63-37
  • C. Bischoff/R. Dengler/H. C. Hopf: Elektromyographie – Nervenleitungsuntersuchungen, 2nd edition, Thieme Verlag (2008), p. 31-33


  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy


  • Masseter muscle - lateral-left view - Yousun Koh
  • Deep part of masseter muscle - dorsal view - Yousun Koh
  • Masseteric nerve - lateral-left view - Paul Kim
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

Related Atlas Images

Muscles of mastication


Main muscles of the head and neck

Continue your learning

Article (You are here)
Other articles
Well done!

Register now and grab your free ultimate anatomy study guide!

Sidebar ebook trimmed
Create your free account.
Start learning anatomy in less than 60 seconds.