This article is about the human bone. In insects, the mandible is the segment forming the mouth. In animals, the bone of the lower jaw that bears teeth is also known as the dentary bone. The mandible (inferior maxillary bone) (together with the maxilla) is the largest and strongest bone of the face. It forms the lower jaw and holds the lower teeth in place. The mandible consists of a curved, horizontal portion, the body, and two perpendicular portions, the rami, which unite with the ends of the body nearly at right angles.
('corpus mandibul?') The body is curved somewhat like a horseshoe and has two surfaces and two borders.
The external surface [Fig. 1] is marked in the median line by a faint ridge, indicating the symphysis or line of junction of the two pieces of which the bone is composed at an early period of life. This ridge divides below and encloses a triangular eminence, the mental protuberance, the base of which is depressed in the center but raised on either side to form the mental tubercle. On either side of the symphysis, just below the incisor teeth, is a depression, the incisive fossa, which gives origin to the mentalis and a small portion of the orbicularis oris. Below the second premolar tooth, on either side, midway between the upper and lower borders of the body, is the mental foramen, for the passage of the mental vessels and nerve. Running backward and upward from each mental tubercle is a faint ridge, the oblique line, which is continuous with the anterior border of the ramus; it affords attachment to the depressor labii Inferioris (Quadratus labii inferioris) and depressor anguli oris (Triangularis); the platysma is attached below it. The internal surface [Fig. 2] is concave from side to side. Near the lower part of the symphysis is a pair of laterally placed spines, termed the mental spines, which give origin to the genioglossus. Immediately below these is a second pair of spines, or more frequently a median ridge or impression, for the origin of the geniohyoid. In some cases the mental spines are fused to form a single eminence, in others they are absent and their position is indicated merely by an irregularity of the surface. Above the mental spines a median foramen and furrow are sometimes seen; they mark the line of union of the halves of the bone. Below the mental spines, on either side of the middle line, is an oval depression for the attachment of the anterior belly of the digastric. Extending upward and backward on either side from the lower part of the symphysis is the mylohyoid line, which gives origin to the mylohyoid; the posterior part of this line, near the alveolar margin, gives attachment to a small part of the Constrictor pharyngis superior, and to the pterygomandibular raph?. Above the anterior part of this line is a smooth triangular area against which the sublingual gland rests, and below the hinder part, an oval fossa for the submaxillary gland.
The superior or alveolar border, wider behind than in front, is hollowed into cavities, for the reception of the teeth; these cavities are sixteen in number, and vary in depth and size according to the teeth which they contain. To the outer lip of the superior border, on either side, the buccinator is attached as far forward as the first molar tooth. The inferior border is rounded, longer than the superior, and thicker in front than behind; at the point where it joins the lower border of the ramus a shallow groove; for the external maxillary artery, may be present.
('ramus mandibul?; perpendicular portion') The ramus is quadrilateral in shape, and has two surfaces, four borders, and two processes.
The lateral surface [Fig. 1] is flat and marked by oblique ridges at its lower part; it gives attachment throughout nearly the whole of its extent to the masseter. The medial surface [Fig. 2] presents about its center the oblique mandibular foramen, for the entrance of the inferior alveolar vessels and nerve. The margin of this opening is irregular; it presents in front a prominent ridge, surmounted by a sharp spine, the lingula mandibulae, which gives attachment to the sphenomandibular ligament; at its lower and back part is a notch from which the mylohyoid groove runs obliquely downward and forward, and lodges the mylohyoid vessels and nerve. Behind this groove is a rough surface, for the insertion of the internal pterygoid muscle (Pterygoideus internus). The mandibular canal runs obliquely downward and forward in the ramus, and then horizontally forward in the body, where it is placed under the alveoli and communicates with them by small openings. On arriving at the incisor teeth, it turns back to communicate with the mental foramen, giving off two small canals which run to the cavities containing the incisor teeth. In the posterior two-thirds of the bone the canal is situated nearer the internal surface of the mandible; and in the anterior third, nearer its external surface. It contains the inferior alveolar vessels and nerve, from which branches are distributed to the teeth. The lower border of the ramus is thick, straight, and continuous with the inferior border of the body of the bone. At its junction with the posterior border is the angle of the mandible, which may be either inverted or everted and is marked by rough, oblique ridges on each side, for the attachment of the Masseter laterally, and the Pterygoideus internus medially; the stylomandibular ligament is attached to the angle between these muscles. The anterior border is thin above, thicker below, and continuous with the oblique line. The posterior border is thick, smooth, rounded, and covered by the parotid gland. The upper border is thin, and is surmounted by two processes, the coronoid in front and the condyloid behind, separated by a deep concavity, the mandibular notch. The Coronoid Process (processus coronoideus) is a thin, triangular eminence, which is flattened from side to side and varies in shape and size. Its anterior border is convex and is continuous below with the anterior border of the ramus; its posterior border is concave and forms the anterior boundary of the mandibular notch. Its lateral surface is smooth, and affords insertion to the Temporalis and Masseter. Its medial surface gives insertion to the Temporalis, and presents a ridge which begins near the apex of the process and runs downward and forward to the inner side of the last molar tooth. Between this ridge and the anterior border is a grooved triangular area, the upper part of which gives attachment to the Temporalis, the lower part to some fibers of the Buccinator. The Condyloid Process (processus condyloideus) is thicker than the coronoid, and consists of two portions: the condyle, and the constricted portion which supports it, the neck. The condyle presents an articular surface for articulation with the articular disk of the temporomandibular joint; it is convex from before backward and from side to side, and extends farther on the posterior than on the anterior surface. Its long axis is directed medialward and slightly backward, and if prolonged to the middle line will meet that of the opposite condyle near the anterior margin of the foramen magnum. At the lateral extremity of the condyle is a small tubercle for the attachment of the temporomandibular ligament. The neck is flattened from before backward, and strengthened by ridges which descend from the forepart and sides of the condyle. Its posterior surface is convex; its anterior presents a depression for the attachment of the Pterygoideus externus. The mandibular notch, separating the two processes, is a deep semilunar depression, and is crossed by the masseteric vessels and nerve.
The mandible is ossified in the fibrous membrane covering the outer surfaces of Meckel's cartilages. These cartilages form the cartilaginous bar of the mandibular arch (see p. 66), and are two in number, a right and a left. Their proximal or cranial ends are connected with the ear capsules, and their distal extremities are joined to one another at the symphysis by mesodermal tissue. They run forward immediately below the condyles and then, bending downward, lie in a groove near the lower border of the bone; in front of the canine tooth they incline upward to the symphysis. From the proximal end of each cartilage the malleus and incus, two of the bones of the middle ear, are developed; the next succeeding portion, as far as the lingula, is replaced by fibrous tissue, which persists to form the sphenomandibular ligament. Between the lingula and the canine tooth the cartilage disappears, while the portion of it below and behind the incisor teeth becomes ossified and incorporated with this part of the mandible. Ossification takes place in the membrane covering the outer surface of the ventral end of Meckel's cartilage (Figs. 178 to 181), and each half of the bone is formed from a single center which appears, near the mental foramen, about the sixth week of fetal life. By the tenth week the portion of Meckel's cartilage which lies below and behind the incisor teeth is surrounded and invaded by the membrane bone. Somewhat later, accessory nuclei of cartilage make their appearance: a wedge-shaped nucleus in the condyloid process and extending downward through the ramus; a small strip along the anterior border of the coronoid process; smaller nuclei in the front part of both alveolar walls and along the front of the lower border of the bone. These accessory nuclei possess no separate ossific centers, but are invaded by the surrounding membrane bone and undergo absorption. The inner alveolar border, usually described as arising from a separate ossific center (splenial center), is formed in the human mandible by an ingrowth from the main mass of the bone. At birth the bone consists of two parts, united by a fibrous symphysis, in which ossification takes place during the first year. The foregoing description of the ossification of the mandible is based on the researches of Low 44 and Fawcett, 45 and differs somewhat from that usually given.
The mandible articulates with the two temporal bones at the temporomandibular joints.
At birth [Fig. 7] the body of the bone is a mere shell, containing the sockets of the two incisor, the canine, and the two deciduous molar teeth, imperfectly partitioned off from one another. The mandibular canal is of large size, and runs near the lower border of the bone; the mental foramen opens beneath the socket of the first deciduous molar tooth. The angle is obtuse (175?), and the condyloid portion is nearly in line with the body. The coronoid process is of comparatively large size, and projects above the level of the condyle. After birth [Fig. 8] the two segments of the bone become joined at the symphysis, from below upward, in the first year; but a trace of separation may be visible in the beginning of the second year, near the alveolar margin. The body becomes elongated in its whole length, but more especially behind the mental foramen, to provide space for the three additional teeth developed in this part. The depth of the body increases owing to increased growth of the alveolar part, to afford room for the roots of the teeth, and by thickening of the subdental portion which enables the jaw to withstand the powerful action of the masticatory muscles; but the alveolar portion is the deeper of the two, and, consequently, the chief part of the body lies above the oblique line. The mandibular canal, after the second dentition, is situated just above the level of the mylohyoid line; and the mental foramen occupies the position usual to it in the adult. The angle becomes less obtuse, owing to the separation of the jaws by the teeth; about the fourth year it is 140?. In the adult [Fig. 9] the alveolar and subdental portions of the body are usually of equal depth. The mental foramen opens midway between the upper and lower borders of the bone, and the mandibular canal runs nearly parallel with the mylohyoid line. The ramus is almost vertical in direction, the angle measuring from 110? to 120?. In old age [Fig. 10] the bone becomes greatly reduced in size, for with the loss of the teeth the alveolar process is absorbed, and, consequently, the chief part of the bone is below the oblique line. The mandibular canal, with the mental foramen opening from it, is close to the alveolar border. The ramus is oblique in direction, the angle measures about 140?, and the neck of the condyle is more or less bent backward. This article is based on an entry from the 1918 edition of Gray's Anatomy, which is in the public domain. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.
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