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Temporal muscle - want to learn more about it?

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Temporal muscle

The temporal muscle, also know as the temporalis, is a flat, fan-shaped muscle of mastication on the lateral side of the head. It is a broad muscle on each side of the skull . The muscle lays within the temporal fossa, superior to the zygomatic arch so it covers much of the temporal bone.

Due to its size it can be palpated without difficulty, especially when the patient opens and closes his mouth alternately. The temporal muscle is often involved in jaw pain and headaches. 

Key facts about the temporal muscle
Origin temporal fossa (up to inferior temporal line), temporal fascia
Insertion apex and medial surface of coronoid process of mandible
Innervation deep temporal branches of mandibular nerve (CN V3)
Function elevates mandible (anterior fibres); retracts mandible (posterior part)

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the temporal muscle.

Anatomy

Origins and Insertions

It arises from the temporal fossa, a large depression on the side of the skull, and the temporal fascia which completely covers the surface of the muscle.

From there, the muscle descends through the gap between the zygomatic arch and the skull, forms a thick tendon and inserts at the coronoid process of mandible.

Innervation

The temporalis is innervated by the anterior and posterior deep temporal nerves branching off from the mandibular nerve.

Function

The temporalis is the most powerful muscle of the temporomandibular joint. Functionally, the muscle can be divided into two parts: the anterior part runs almost vertically and moves the mandible forward (protrusion).

Recommended video: Temporal muscle
Anatomy and function of the temporal (temporalis) muscle.

In contrast the fibers of the posterior part course almost horizontally and pull the mandible backwards (retrusion). The activation of both muscles moves the mandible dorsocranially leading to a strong jaw closure (elevation).

Clinical Aspects

Tension of the temporal muscle can induce pain in the temporal area. Common causes include:

  • misalignments of the teeth and jaws
  • trauma
  • a prolonged immobilisation (e.g. after a mandibular fracture)
  • teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • a dental intervention during which the person's mouth had to be open for a long period of time.

Clinically, it is important to rule out an inflammation of the superficial temporal artery, which runs in front of the ear along the zygomatic arch to the temporal area. Vasculitides, such as the giant cell arteritis, frequently involve the superficial temporal artery and cause swelling and massive pain in the temporal area. The diagnosis can be confirmed by a temporal artery biopsy.

Temporal muscle - want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 1,053,623 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • D. Drenckhahn, J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), p. 184
  • A. Bumann, U. Lotzmann: Color atlas of dental medicine – TMJ disorders and orofacial pain, Thieme Verlag (2002), p. 34
  • W. Graumann, D. Sasse: CompactLehrbuch Band 4 – Sinnessysteme, Haut, ZNS, Periphere Leitungsbahnen, Schattauer (2005), p. 551
  • Keidel: Kopfschmerz-Management in der Praxis, Thieme Verlag (2006), p. 115
  • H. Hecker et al.: Color atlas of acupuncture, Thieme Verlag (2008), 2nd edition, p. 176-177

Author:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

Illustrators:

  • Temporalis muscle - lateral-left view - Yousun Koh
  • Anterior deep temporal 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.

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