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Temporal muscle: want to learn more about it?

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Temporal muscle

Temporalis muscle (Musculus temporalis)

The temporalis muscle is a thin, fan-shaped muscle situated within the temporal fossa of the skull. Along with the medial pterygoid, lateral pterygoid and masseter muscles, it belongs to the group masticatory muscles. The temporalis muscle runs superficially, from the temporal bone to the coronoid process of mandible.

The main function of this muscle is to produce the movements of the mandible at the temporomandibular joint and thus facilitate the act of mastication. Its anterior portion moves the mandible dorsocranially (elevation) while its posterior fibers pull the mandible posteriorly (retrusion).

Key facts about the temporalis muscle
Origin Temporal fossa (up to inferior temporal line), Temporal fascia
Insertion Apex and medial surface of coronoid process of mandible
Action Anterior fibres: Elevates mandible 
Posterior part: Retracts mandible
Innervation Deep temporal branches (of mandibular nerve (CN V3))
Blood supply Deep temporal branches of maxillary artery, middle temporal branches from superficial temporal artery

In this article, we will discuss the anatomy and function of the temporalis muscle.

Origin and insertion

The temporalis muscle is a broad muscle that occupies most of the temporal fossa. Its origin point spans the entire surface of the fossa below the temporal line. Additionally, some fibers originate from the temporal fascia as well. 

The temporalis muscle is divided into the anterior and posterior parts. The anterior fibers run inferiorly, in an almost vertical direction, while its posterior fibers are directed almost horizontally. Both anterior and posterior fibers converge onto a narrow tendon that runs medial to the zygomatic arch. The tendon inserts onto the apex and medial surface of the coronoid process of mandible.

Relations 

The temporalis muscle covers the temporal fossa with its deep surface. Superficially, the muscle is covered by the temporal fascia, masseter muscle, subcutaneous tissue and skin. The auriculotemporal, facial and zygomaticotemporal nerves run across the superficial aspect of the temporalis muscle. 

Innervation

The temporalis muscle receives its innervation from the anterior, middle and posterior deep temporal branches of the anterior trunk of the mandibular nerve (V3).

Blood supply

The temporalis muscle receives its blood supply from the deep temporal branches of the maxillary artery and middle temporal branches of the superficial temporal artery.

Function

The temporalis muscle is the strongest muscle of the temporomandibular joint and the only retractor of the mandible. The contraction of the posterior fibers of the temporalis muscle results with the backward movement of the mandible (retrusion). The contraction of its anterior fibers moves the mandible dorsocranially (elevation). In unison, these actions facilitate the closing of the mouth and the approximation of the teeth. Additionally, the unilateral contraction of the temporalis muscle plays an important role in the side-to-side movements of the jaw. 

To expand your knowledge check out our other articles, videos, quizzes and labeled diagrams about the muscles of mastication.

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.

What do you prefer to learn with?

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

Show references

References:

  • Moore, K. L., Dalley, A. F., & Agur, A. M. R. (2014). Clinically Oriented Anatomy (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Palastanga, N., & Soames, R. (2012). Anatomy and human movement: structure and function (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.
  • Standring, S. (2016). Gray's Anatomy (41tst ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
  • Netter, F. (2014). Atlas of Human Anatomy (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Saunders.

Illustrators:

  • Temporalis muscle (Musculus temporalis) - Yousun Koh
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