The way our face looks, whether we have high sculpted cheekbones or a strong wide jaw is largely determined by our skull structure. The human skull is made up of 22 bones, 8 of which form the Cranium which is the back part of our head while the other 14 bones make up our face. These notes will outline the facial bone anatomy.
As we mentioned above, our face has 14 small bones that make up our appearance and features. These include:
2 Maxillary bones
The Mandible bone
2 Conchae bone
2 Nasal bones
The Vomer bone
2 Lacrimal bones
2 Zygomatic bones
2 Palatine bones
Let’s look at each individual bone to understand what they are, and which part our face they shape.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Maxillary Bones
The Maxillary Bones are the two bones fused together that form a big part of our face. They make up the orbital area (under our eyes) down to our upper jaw including the nasal passageway and the hard palate (the roof of the mouth).
If we look at the Maxillary Bones, we’ll notice two ‘punctured holes’ underneath the eye cavities. These holes are known as Infraorbital Foramen, and they allow the infraorbital artery, vein and nerve to go through the skull and supply blood and innervation. This point is often used by dentists when they want to administer a nerve block and numb the upper jaw.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Mandible
The Mandible bone is commonly known as the lower jaw bone, and it starts below the ears and forms the Rasmus (jawline) and the chin. The top part of the Mandible has two ‘hooks’ on each side that are attached to the Temporal Bone. The point of attachment is called the Mandibular Fossa and you can notice where it starts because the bone has a slight depression making it easier for the jaw to open and close. The front ‘hook’ of the Rasmus is called the Coronoid Process and the back ‘hook’ is known as the Condylar Process.
Similar to the maxilla, the mandible has two holes, one on either side called the Mental Foramen which is an opening for the end branches of the Inferior Alveolar nerves and blood vessels. The Mental Foramen is another point to administer a nerve block for the lower jaw. Lastly, the Mandible has another two holes on the inner side called the Mandibular Foramen. This hole creates a passageway for the Inferior Alveolar nerve, artery and vein.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Conchae
The Conchae Nasal bones are replicated on each side, and they can be divided into three sections: the superior, the middle and the inferior Conchae. The Superior Nasal Conchae merges into the Ethmoid Bone while the Inferior Nasal Conchae are separate facial bones located on each side of the nose.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Nasal Bones
The primary make-up of our nose is cartilage however it also has two bony parts known as the Nasal Bones which form the bridge of the nose.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Vomer Bone
Along with the nasal bones, the face has the Vomer Bone which is located right in the middle of the nose and makes up the inferior part of the nasal septum. This separates the right and left nostrils and nasal airways. Because of its location, the Vomer Bone joins with several other facial bones including the Maxillary Bones, the Palatine Bones and several Cranial Bones.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Lacrimal Bones
The smallest bones of the skull are the Lacrimal Bones which are the bones that shape the canals of the Lacrimal Apparatus in other words where tears are produced. The Lacrimal Bones also form part of the medial aspect of each eye socket.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Zygomatic Bones
If you run your fingers across your face you’ll be able to feel your cheekbones, and the two bones you can feel on either side of your face are called the Zygomatic Bones. Specifically the part that protrudes out is called the Zygomatic Arch. These bones are attached to the eye socket and they are connected with the cranial bones.
Facial Bone Anatomy: The Palatine Bones
Deep in the skull, we can find the last pair of facial bones which are the Palatine Bones. These bones help to form three different cavities including the orbits, nasal cavity and oral cavity. They form part of the floor of the orbits, the lateral walls in the floor of the nasal cavity and the roof of the oral cavity.
Bright green: Inferior nasal concha (2)
Bright blue: Lacrimal bone (2)
Purple: Mandible (1)
Yellow: Maxilla (2)
Pink: Nasal bone (2)
Red: Palatine bone (2)
Blue: Vomer (1)
Dark green: Zygomatic bone (2)
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