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What muscles attach to chin?

Muscles of Facial Expression

Welcome back! Begin this investigation with the muscles of the scalp. Identify the following in your specimen:

  • frontal belly of occipitofrontalis — This muscle covers the forehead and dome of the skull but it has no attachments directly to any bone. Rather, it originates at a membranous sheet that connects muscle to bone called an aponeurosis. The insertion for the frontalis is the skin of the eyebrows and root of the nose. When contracted, the frontalis raises the eyebrows causing horizontal wrinkles across the forehead. Go ahead and send a contraction message to your frontalis. You will need to use your facial nerve, cranial nerve VII, to get the message there from your brain. Pull your eyebrows up and feel the wrinkles across your forehead.
  • galea aponeurotica — This aponeurosis is NOT muscular tissue. This explains why you can’t move much around on the top of your head.
  • occipital belly of occipitofrontalis — Rotate your specimen 180° to the posterior perspective. The origin of this muscle is the occipital bone and its insertion is the galea aponeurotica. The occipitalis pulls the scalp posteriorly and fixes, or holds, the origin of the frontal belly.

The frontalis is one of three structures that comprise the epicranius. The epicranius is frequently referred to as a muscle but the frontal and occipital bellies of the occipitofrontalis are the muscular portions. The galea aponeurotica is the third part.

Eye & Mouth Muscles

Locate each of the following in your specimen:

  • orbicularis oculi — This thin, flat sphincter muscle (circular) enables you to squint, blink, and draw the eyebrows downward.
  • zygomaticus muscles (major & minor) — The origin of these muscles is the zygomatic bone (hence the name zygomaticus) and insertion is the skin and muscle at the corner of the mouth. The muscles raise the lateral corners of the mouth upward. Smile if you’re having a good time; good use of the zygomaticus.
  • levator labii superioris — This name translates to «raise lip above or over». Its origin is the zygomatic bone and infraorbital margin of the maxilla. Its insertion is the skin and muscle of the upper lip. You use the levator labii superioris to open your lips, and raise and furrow your upper lip. Show your front teeth like your disgusted and say, «yuuuuk.» That’s your levator labii superioris.
  • orbicularis oris — This translates to «around the mouth.» This is a very complicated muscle with fibers running in many directions but most run circularly. Its indirect origin is the maxilla and mandible with fibers blending with other facial muscles fibers associated with the lips. The insertion is into muscle and skin at the angles of the mouth. The orbicularis oris closes and purses, and protrudes the lips. Exercise this muscle by giving someone a kiss, but do not confuse kinetic internalization of new learning with an undue interruption of your studies! 🙂
  • risorius — When you tense your lips by drawing the corner laterally, you are exercising your risorius. Risorius translates to «laughter.» The origin of the risorius is the lateral fascia associated with the masseter muscle (you’ll look at it soon). The insertion is the skin at the corner of the mouth.
  • corrugator supercilli — This name translates to «wrinkle the eyebrow.» Its origin is the arch of the frontal bone and its insertion is the skin of the eyebrow. This little muscle draws your eyebrows together wrinkling the skin of your forehead vertically. This is exercised with the eye and brow posture that accompanies a frown.
  • buccinator — First, dissect away the left and right depressor anguli oris and the orbicularis oris. Now, locate the left and right buccinators. Buccinator means «cheek or trumpeter.» The origin is the molar region of the maxilla and mandible. The insertion is the orbicularis oris. The buccinator draws the corner of the mouth laterally and compresses the cheek (as when whistling and sucking). To gain a better perspective, rotate your specimen to 45°.

Chin Muscles

Locate the following in your specimen:

  • depressor labii inferioris — The name means «depresses below the lip.» Its origin is the body of the mandible and its insertion is the skin and muscle of the lower lip. Its function is to draw the lower lip downward. Make a pouty face; that’s your mentalis (the next muscle you’ll find) and depressor labii inferioris working together.
  • mentalis — Dissect away the right and left depressor labii inferioris to gain a better view of the mentalis. (Remember, you do this clicking once to select the muscle then clicking again to remove it.) «Ment» is Latin for «chin.» Realize that this is superficial to your previous dissection level. The origin of the mentalis is the mandible below the incisors. The insertion is the skin of the chin. The mentalis protrudes the lower lip and wrinkles the chin.
  • depressor anguli oris — We’ll continue laterally to the depressor anguli oris muscle. This name translates to «depresses the corner of the mouth.» It’s origin is also the mandible and its insertion is the skin and muscle at the angles of the mouth below the zygomaticus insertion. The depressor anguli oris is antagonistic (opposite action) of the zygomaticus. The depressor anguli oris pulls the corners of the mouth downward and laterally. Imagine you just got some really bad news and grimace. That’s it!

Neck Muscle

  • platysma (pla-TEEZ-ma) — (I just like the sound of it!) Platysma means «broad and flat.» Although not specifically a head muscle, the platysma plays a role in facial expression. It helps depress the mandible and pull the lower lip back and down. Men exercise this muscle when shaving their neck. Not trying to be sexist, women would exercise this muscle when shaving their necks, too. :-0 The origin is the fascia of the chest over the pectorals and deltoids (you’ll learn these shortly). The insertion is the lower margin of the mandible, as well as the skin and muscle at the corner of the mouth.

Go get a snack. You’ll soon learn muscles used for chewing and tongue movement so why not do a little applied learning!

Self-test Labeling Exercises

  • Muscles of Facial Expression (Anterior)
  • Muscles of Facial Expression (Lateral)

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Facial Muscles

Facial muscles work together to control the parts of your face. They are essential to chewing and making facial expressions. If you experience weakness or paralysis in your face muscles, seek medical attention. Although facial palsy can be a sign of a temporary, curable condition, it may also indicate a serious medical problem.


Medical illustration of facial muscles

What are the facial muscles?

Your face has almost 20 flat skeletal muscles that attach to different places on your skull. The craniofacial muscles are essential to chewing and making facial expressions. They originate from bone or fascia and insert into your skin. Craniofacial muscles work together to control movements in your:

  • Cheeks.
  • Chin.
  • Ears (only in some people).
  • Eyebrows.
  • Eyelids.
  • Forehead.
  • Lips (upper and lower).
  • Nose and nostrils.

Care at Cleveland Clinic

  • Facial Paralysis Treatment
  • Find a Doctor and Specialists
  • Make an Appointment


What is the purpose of the muscles of your face?

Your facial muscles are responsible for two major tasks:

  • Chewing (also called masticating).
  • Making facial expressions, such as smiling, pouting or raising your eyebrows in surprise.

The facial muscles involved in chewing are:

  • Buccinator, a thin muscle in your cheek that holds each cheek toward your teeth.
  • Lateral pterygoid, a fan-shaped muscle that helps your jaw open.
  • Masseter, a muscle that runs from each cheek to each side of your jaw and helps your jaw close.
  • Medial pterygoid, a thick muscle that helps your jaw close.
  • Temporalis, a fan-shaped muscle that helps your jaw close.

The muscles of facial expressions are:

  • Auriculars, which allow some people to move their ears.
  • Corrugator supercilii, which is near the eyebrow and enables frowning.
  • Depressor anguli oris, which is on each side of your chin and works with other muscles to produce a frown.
  • Depressor labii inferioris, a muscle in your chin that helps control movement in your lower lip.
  • Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi, which can open your nostrils and lift your upper lip.
  • Mentalis, a pair of muscles toward the center of your chin that helps control your lower lip.
  • Nasalis, which allows you to flare your nostrils.
  • Occipitofrontalis, a muscle that extends from your eyebrows to the top of your skull that can raise your eyebrows and wrinkle your forehead.
  • Orbicularis oculi, which closes your eyelids.
  • Orbicularis oris, a circle of muscle around your mouth that closes or purses your lips.
  • Procerus, a muscle between your eyebrows that can pull your brows downward and help flare your nostrils.
  • Risorius, which is located on each side of your mouth and aids in smiling.
  • Zygomaticus major and minor, which allow you to smile.

Other functions of the muscles of your face include:

  • Determining what a person looks like.
  • Protecting your eyes.
  • Keeping food and drink in your mouth (preventing drooling).
  • Talking.
  • Singing.
  • Whistling.


Where are the face muscles located?

Facial muscles are located throughout your face. They can be categorized by general location:

  • Buccolabial muscles in and around your mouth.
  • Nasal muscles around your nose.
  • Epicranial muscles of your forehead, skull and neck.
  • Auricular muscles around your ears.
  • Orbital muscles surrounding your eyes.

Conditions and Disorders

What conditions and disorders can affect the facial muscles?

To function, the facial muscles get signals from the brain via the facial nerve. But sometimes, they can’t receive those signals properly.

When the facial muscles cannot receive brain signals properly, that can cause:

  • Droopy or sagging appearance in the face.
  • Facial palsy (weakness).
  • Facial paralysis (inability to move parts of the face).
  • Trouble chewing, speaking or making facial expressions.
  • Drooling.

Symptoms can occur:

  • All over your face.
  • In one specific area.
  • On the left or right side.
  • On the top or bottom half.

Damage to the facial nerve and problems with the facial muscles can be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disease: Diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or multiple sclerosis can cause facial palsy over time.
  • Bell’s palsy: When swelling puts pressure on the facial nerve, Bell’s palsy can cause facial weakness or paralysis on one or both sides of your face. It almost always leads to a complete inability to wrinkle your forehead. Bell’s palsy happens suddenly but is usually temporary.
  • Head and neck cancer: In head and neck cancer, a growing tumor can interfere with facial muscle function over time.
  • Infection: A bacterial or viral infection can cause inflammation of the facial nerve and problems in the muscles of the face. Examples include ear infections, Lyme disease or Ramsay-Hunt syndrome.
  • Injury to the head or face: Facial trauma, such as a blow to the head or car accident, can damage the facial nerve and facial muscles.
  • Stroke: A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. It can cause sudden facial weakness or paralysis. Other signs may include paralysis on one side of the body, confusion, memory loss and trouble communicating. A person who has had a stroke can usually still wrinkle the forehead, unlike with Bell’s palsy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I seek medical attention for facial weakness or facial paralysis?

You should seek medical attention right away if you have any facial weakness or facial paralysis.

It might just be a temporary case of Bell’s palsy or a treatable infection. But a healthcare provider should examine you in case you have something more serious, such as a tumor or stroke.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your facial muscles work together to control the parts of your face. They are essential to chewing, facial expressions and other functions. Weakness or paralysis of your face muscles can be a temporary condition or a serious medical problem. See a healthcare provider right away if you have facial palsy or any trouble smiling, talking or eating.

Articulation: Facial Muscles

voice & speech source

Facial Muscles:
The Facial Muscles, and in particular those in the lips, help to shape the sound and air stream into recognizable speech. Visible in this image (click on it), these muscles move the face in response to our thoughts, feelings, emotions and impulses. Actors work very carefully to learn how to isolate each muscle. It is useful to learn to recognise the various muscles in order to better isolate them, so that any extraneous movement is eliminated and the muscles used are those desired. Also by recognising the muscles’ shape, it is easier to understand how the face is moved by these muscles.

  • frontalis : the forehead
  • corrugator : the brow
  • nasalis : the nose
  • obicularis oculi : around the eye
  • levator labii : raises the upper lip
  • masseter : closes the jaw
  • Obicularis oris : purses the lips
  • risoris: draws the lips in a smile
  • buccinator : pulls the lips wide and tight
  • depressor labii : lowers the lower lips
  • depressor anguli oris : lowers the bottom corner of the lips
  • levator anguli oris (not shown): raises the upper corner of the lips
  • pterigoid (not shown): pulls jaw back or shut
  • mentalis : pulls chin down

This image features a clear side view of the facial muscles. You can see the temporalis muscle, those on your temples under the hairline just above your ears, very clearly. These are very active in chewing. Also visible is the large strap of the buccinator muscle (latin for bugler), which pulls the side of the mouth wide.

The platysma muscle covers the front of the neck, and is the muscle closest to the surface. This image shows the angle at which one feels the platysma best, by lifting the chin while turning the head to either side. This muscle often tries to «help» as we speak, and learning to relax it can be very difficult for some. It attaches to the jaw line and to the clavicle as it smoothes over the neck.

For speech, the most important facial muscles are those that move the lips. All other muscles we want to relax as much as possible, especially the jaw muscles. In fact, some models are now having «botox», a form of botulism toxin, injected into some of their facial muscles, like the corrugator and frontalis, so that the muscles won’t work and won’t create wrinkles.

  • Jaw
  • Facial Muscles (on this page)
  • Tongue
    • intrinsic muscles
    • extrinsic muscles
    • Hard Palate
    • Soft Palate

    More on Articulation:

    Master Muscle List
    Loyola University has a great online learning area on anatomy. This link puts you in the Master Muscle List by Region, where you should select «head and neck». This will give you a huge long list of all the muscles in the head and neck which you can use to learn more about these structures.

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