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Masseter – Functional Anatomy

The masseter is a three bellied muscle on the lateral jaw. It is often regarded as having the strongest muscle fibers in the body.

Superficial bellies:

Origin

  • anterior two-thirds of the zygomatic arch along the maxilla and temporal bones,

Insertion

  • anterior belly attaches along the anterior surface of the mandible in front of the attachment of the deep belly.
  • posterior belly attaches to the surface of the ramus behind the attachment of the deep belly

Deep belly:

Origin

  • posterior third of the zygomatic arch along the zygomatic process of the temporal bone.

Insertion

  • lateral surface of the coronoid process of the mandible.

Function

  • elevate the mandible and close the jaw.
  • some protraction of the mandible

Innervation

  • trigeminal nerve, mandibular division

The masseter is another one of those three-bellied muscles with a strong fascial covering, like gluteus medius and infraspinatus. Also, like those muscles, it balances and stabilizes a joint that needs both strength and flexibility.

Wikipedia entry for Masseter.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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