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Masseter muscle

Recommended video: Muscles of mastication [22:28]
Origins, insertions, innervation and functions of the muscles of mastication.

Masseter muscle is a paired, strong, thick and rectangular muscle that is originating from the zygomatic arch and extends down to the mandibular angle. It consists of a superficial and a deep part.

It is one of the masticatory muscles, a group of muscles which also includes the temporal muscle, lateral pterygoid muscle and medial pterygoid muscle. Its specific functions are elevation and protrusion of the mandible, as well as providing support to the articular capsule of the temporomandibular joint.

This article will cover the anatomy and function of the masseter muscle.

Key facts about masseter muscle
Origin Superficial part: maxillary process of zygomatic bone, Inferior border of zygomatic arch (anterior 2/3)
Deep part: deep/inferior surface of zygomatic arch (posterior 1/3)
Insertion Lateral surface of ramus and angle of mandible
Innervation Masseteric nerve of mandibular nerve (CN V3)
Blood supply Masseteric artery
Function Elevates and protrudes mandible
  1. Origin and insertion 
  2. Relations 
  3. Innervation
  4. Blood supply
  5. Function 
  6. Clinical aspects
    1. Masseter (mandibular) reflex
    2. Infections and submasseteric abscesses
  7. Sources
+ Show all

Origin and insertion 

The superficial part of the muscle that lies over its deep part originates from the maxillary process of the zygomatic bone. It then runs inferoposteriorly to the masseteric tuberosity found on the lower part of the superficial side of the ramus of the mandible.

The deep part consists of vertically directed muscle fibers. This part originates from the entire length of the inferior border of the zygomatic arch, and inserts onto the superficial side of the ramus of mandible, superior to the insertion of the superficial part of the muscle.

With this position, the muscle can be easily palpated from the oral cavity along the cheek. Furthermore, some of the deep fibers radiate into the anterior capsule and articular disc of the temporomandibular joint.

Need to learn the origins and insertions (plus innervations and functions!) of the masseter muscle as quickly as possible? Our head and neck muscle anatomy chart will cut your time in half. 


The entire superficial (lateral) aspect of the muscle is covered with thin but very strong masseteric fascia

Also on the superficial side, below the zygomatic process, the duct of the parotid gland passes across the surface of the muscle. This duct courses mostly over the anterior part of the lateral aspect, i.e. it is located anterolaterally

The superficial part of the gland itself is also located superficially to the masseter, but a bit more posteriorly, i.e. posterolaterally to the muscle.

Along with the parotid gland, a few more structures can be found over the lateral side of the muscle:

The medial, or inner, surface of the muscle is mostly related ramus of mandible almost completely covering its superficial surface.

The medial aspect of the masseter muscle forms the lateral wall of the facial space called the submasseteric space. It is a paired potential space between the lateral aspect of the mandible and medial aspect of the masseter muscle.
Located deep to the posterior part of the inner aspect of the muscle, or simply posteromedially, the temporal muscle is found.

Anterior to the muscle, the buccinator muscle is located. The abovementioned duct of the parotid gland actually penetrates the fibers of the buccinator muscle to find its way to the inside of the oral cavity and finally open onto the inner side of the cheek.

The posterior aspect of the muscle is located anteriorly to the deep part of the parotid gland. This practically means that the parotid gland surrounds the entire posterior and most of the superficial aspect of the muscle.


Like all the muscles from the masticatory group, the masseter muscle is innervated by the special branch of the mandibular nerve, called the masseteric nerve.

Blood supply

The masseter muscle is supplied with blood by the masseteric artery, a branch of the maxillary artery


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.

Do you want to learn more about the masseter muscle and other masticatory muscles? Then take a look at the following quiz!

Masseter muscle: want to learn more about it?

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