What do the Muscles Of Mastication do?

Mastication is the first step in the process of digesting food. It is the process in which food is chewed and broken down with the help of the teeth , tongue and the muscular action of the jaw. The

Muscles of Mastication

has a major role in the crushing of the food so that it is easily acted on by the enzymes to ensure proper digestion.

The muscles needed in mastication are as follows:

  • Masseter

  • Temporalis

  • Lateral Pterygoid Muscle

  • Medial Pterygoid Muscle

Description and functions of the Muscles Of Mastication

Masseter muscle


  • It originates from the zygomatic arch (Cheek bone) and connects to the body of the mandible (main lower jaw bone).
  • The masseter is one of the most efficient masticating muscles and is made up of two parts, deep and superficial. The fibers in this muscle are very broad and strong which aids in applying pressure and grinding the food.
  • The massetic artery (blood supply) and massetic nerve serves this muscle.

It consists of two parts :




The superficial part is the larger, broader part of the muscle arising as a bunch of tendons (thick bunch of fibrous connective tissue) from the zygomatic arch. Arising from the arch, its fibers extends inward and outward and inserts themselves in the lower half of the mandible (jaw bone).

Deep part is smaller and muscular and is responsible for the function of the upper half of the mandible.

The main

functions of the masseter muscle


  • Functioning of the mandible and thereby raising it to open the mouth.
  • Chewing by moving the food in all parts of the mouth and in any direction.
  • Closing the mouth after the food has been ingested.

Temporalis Muscle

: It is a broad and wide muscle originating from the parietal bone of the skull on the side of the head.
Covering the temporal area of the skull this muscle aids in mastication. Its fibers gathers together to form a strong tendon and passing the zygomatic arch gets inserted in the mandible as far as the position of the last molar tooth.

The Deep Temporal artery and the Trigeminal nerve serve this muscle.

The main

functions of this muscle

are as follows:

  • Aid in the crushing action of the mandible to break down food.
  • Raising and closing back the mandible to open and close the mouth.

Lateral Pterygoid Muscle

: It is a short thick cone like muscle which helps in mastication and has two heads.

Inferior head

-It originates from the pterygoid process

Superior Head

–It originates from the sphenoid bone.

The maxillary artery and the Trigeminal nerve serve this muscle.

The main

functions of this muscle

are :

  • Lower the mandible
  • Helps in opening the jaw.

Medial Pterygoid Muscle

: It is a thick and quadrilateral shaped muscle used in the mastication process.
It arises from the deep head around the middle of the lateral Pterygoid muscle.
The Pterygoid branch of the maxillary artery and the mandibular nerve servers this muscle

The main

functions of this muscle

are as follows:

  • It helps raising the mandible.
  • Closing the jaw.
  • Movement to the sides.

The Muscles of Mastication have a huge role in ensuring proper digestion.

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