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What is the Maxillary Artery?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2016
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Arising from the external carotid artery, the maxillary artery helps to supply various facial structures with blood and oxygen. The artery begins in the neck just behind the mandible, commonly referred to as the jaw. Various branches of the artery are segmented into three parts for reference, known as the mandibular, pterygoid, and pterygopalatine portions.

Transporting blood, oxygen, and various other nutrients from the main carotid artery is among the functions of the external carotid artery. In addition to giving rise to the maxillary artery, the main carotid artery also branches into several other arteries. These include the superior thyroid, superficial temporal, and the lingual arteries.

Also commonly referred to as the internal maxillary artery in text books, the maxillary artery originates from the external carotid artery, and then passes through both the parotid gland and mandible. Branches reach the tympanic membrane of the ear and muscles of the jaw. The artery branches also supply blood and oxygen to the maxillary sinus membranes and tonsils.

The first section of the internal maxillary artery is referred to as the mandibular portion. Arteries branching off of the mandibular portion include the anterior tympanic, deep auricular, and inferior alveolar arteries. These arteries provide blood flow to the gingiva, lower teeth, and mandibular muscles.

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Called the pterygoid section, the second portion of the artery also branches off into several other arteries. These arteries include the deep temporal, masseteric, and buccinators. Parts of the face that they supply include both the masseter muscle and the muscles in the cheek area of the face.

The ptergopalatine section, or third portion of the internal maxillary artery, is often referred to as the terminal portion of the internal maxillary artery. Branches of the ptergopalatine section include the pharyngeal, posterior superior alveolar, and infraorbital arteries. The upper molars and roof of the mouth are among the features of the face the ptergopalatine section supplies.

In addition to giving rise to the internal maxillary artery, or maxillary artery, the external carotid artery also gives rise to the external maxillary artery. This artery is also called the facial artery. The facial artery splits off into several branches as well.

Branches of the facial artery include those that branch into the cervical portion of the spine and those that branch towards the facial area. Cervical branches include the tonsillar, glandular, submental, and muscular. Facial branches include the lateral nasal, angular, and inferior labial.

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