What is the Anatomy of the Head?

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  • Written By: Von Shanks
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2019
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The anatomy of the head is very complex and consists of bones, the brain, blood vessels, glands, muscles, nerves, the mouth, the nose, teeth, the tongue and the throat. The head is positioned atop the vertebral column at the C1 vertebra. The bones of the head and face are the base for the soft tissues of the anatomy of the head. The bones form the foundation of the structure and the look of the face and head.

The top part of the head, or cranium, has eight bones and the facial bones are made up of 14 separate bones. The eight bones that form the cranium are the frontal bone, two parietal bones, an occipital bone, two temporal bones, a sphenoid bone and an ethmoid bone. As the cranium develops, the bones fuse and form sutures. The facial bones consist of two zygomatic bones, two maxillary bones, two palatine bones, two nasal bones, two lacrimal bones, a vomer bone, two inferior conchae and a mandible bone.

The cranium houses the brain. The brain is encased in a cerebral spinal fluid that acts as a cushion to protect it from injury. Blood vessels in the anatomy of the head and neck consist of the internal jugular, external jugular, vertebral, subclavian, and superior vena cava. These vessels carry the blood to and from the head. Lymph vessels drain the head and neck of excess interstitial fluid.


There are eight major facial and head muscles in the anatomy of the head. The facial muscles include the orbicularis oculi, which close the eyes; and the orbicularis oris, which allows the mouth to pucker. The mentalis raises the lower lip and causes wrinkling on the chin, while the frontalis raises the eyebrows. The corrugator pulls the eyebrows down and causes vertical wrinkles in the forehead, while the procerus muscle, allows the bridge of the nose to be raised. Two muscles on the side and back of the head are the auricularis posterior muscles, which pull the ears backward; and the occipitalis muscles, which pull the scalp back.

The mouth supports speech and an entry to the digestive system, and the tongue assists in speech, taste, chewing and swallowing. The teeth, which are supported by the bones of the jaw, assist in chewing and the breakdown of food. The salivary glands produce saliva, which mixes with food to help start the digestive process. The nose houses the nasal cavity, which conditions the air being received into the respiratory system. All of these bones, muscles, nerves and fluids make up the anatomy of the head and allow it to work properly.


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