The lateral pterygoid muscle is a masticatory muscle of the human dentition. It ensures the opening of the jaw. He also makes it possible to push the jaw forward.

What is the lateral pterygoid muscle?

The lateral pterygoid muscle is a muscle of the temporomandibular joint. It is located on the inside of the lower jaw. The masticatory muscles of humans are controlled by four masticatory muscles. These include the masseter muscle, the temporalis muscle, the medial pterygoid muscle and the lateral pterygoid muscle.

Each of them has a different task and function in the jaw area. These include the movement of the lower jaw. The lateral pterygoid muscle is called the external wing muscle. As the only muscle it serves the opening of the jaw. In addition, it allows the displacement of the jaw forward or sideways. It enables the so-called grinding movement to be carried out with the jaw. The lateral pterygoid muscle is distinguished from the functional activity of the other muscles. He is the only muscle responsible for the closure of the jaw. Instead, the jaw can be opened with it. The course of the lateral pterygoid muscle is almost horizontal. It is supplied by the lateral pterygoid nerve.

Anatomy & Construction

The mandibular nerve leaves the cranial cavity through the foramen ovale as a branch of the v. Cranial nerve, the trigeminal nerve. The sensitive part of the nerve is divided into four branches.

These include the auriculotemporal nerve, the inferior alveolar nerve, the lingual nerve and the buccal nerve. The motor part of the mandibular nerve also divides into several branches. These then move to the jaw muscles of the lower jaw and the floor of the mouth. They include the masseteric nerve, the temporal nerves, the pterygoid nerves, and the mylohyoid nerve. Nervus massetericus innervates the masseter muscle. The temporal nerves innervate the temporal muscle. The nervi pterygoidei supply the lateral and medial pterygoid muscles.

The Nervus mylohyoideus is responsible for the supply of the Mundfleischmuskulatur. The lateral pterygoid muscle has two muscle heads. One is located on the surface below the sphenoid bone, the sphenoid bone. There are two strong bone plates called Ala major. The lateral pterygoid muscle continues to move via the lateral lamina to the bony extension of the sphenoid bone. This is the pterygoid process. There is the second muscle head of the lateral ptergoid muscle.

Function & Tasks

Each of the four muscles of the chewing apparatus has different tasks and functions. The masseter muscle is the masticatory muscle responsible for closing the jaw. The temporalis muscle is called the temporal muscle and helps to close and retract the lower jaw. The medial pterygoid muscle is the inner wing muscle. He also serves the jaw.

The lateral pterygoid muscle is called the external wing muscle. It serves to move the temporomandibular joint. It initiates the opening of the mouth. In addition, it allows the advancement of the lower jaw. This process is called protrusion. The movements are additionally strengthened. This happens through the masticatory loop with the masseter. Another function of the lateral pterygoid muscle is the gliding movement. These go from right to left and vice versa. This process is called laterotrusion.

Laterotrusion results in a one-sided contraction of the lateral pterygoid muscle in the opposite direction. The mouth is continued in addition to the action of the lateral pterygoid muscle by the suprahyusal muscles. These are four muscles that belong to the hyoid muscles. These are the musculus digastricus, the mylohyoid muscle, the geniohyoid muscle and the stylohyoid muscle. The upper head of the lateral pterygoid muscle carries the articular cartilage, the articular disc. He thus supports the movement of the temporomandibular joint.


The entire masticatory apparatus is one of the most sensitive systems of the body. The lateral pterygoid muscle plays a central role in malpositions of the temporomandibular joint.

Craniomandibular dysfunction is a condition in which the maxilla is maladjusted to the maxilla. It is considered an umbrella term for structural or functional dysregulations. In addition, biochemical and psychological problems of muscle or joint function are summarized below. The diseases causes that when biting the two jaws do not meet optimally. This has the consequence that there is a strong overloading or incorrect loading of the masticatory muscles. These stresses cause pain, irritation and swelling in both jaws.

Craniomandibular dysfunction may be due to genetic dispositions, mental stress or malocclusions. In addition, too high dental fillings or faulty dentures such as crowns and bridges can trigger the disease. Also, the loss of tooth substance by, for example, caries to the causes of craniomandibular dysfunction. Head, neck and back pain can be triggered by a malfunction of the temporomandibular joint and the associated chewing organ. The chewing and back muscles are closely interconnected and influence each other.

Complaints such as tinnitus or other ear noises, dizziness and visual disturbances often originate from a faulty chewing organ. Dysphagia, nocturnal clenching of the teeth, increased salivation or toothache, as well as inflammation of the nerves are also among the complaints of the masticatory apparatus. Infections or viral diseases like herpes affect the oral region. It affects the movements of the jaw and their load.

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