The temporal muscle, or temporalis muscle, is one of several chewing muscles that is necessary for crushing and grinding objects between the molars. Due to its location and frequent use, this muscle may be a primary focal point for a recurring condition known as “tension headaches.”

The temporal muscle is broad, fan-shaped, and situated along the side of the head, occupying a depression in the skull called the temporal fossa. It originates from the temporal fossa and temporal fascia (connective tissue that lies under the skin), and passes the zygomatic arch (cheekbone) before inserting into the mandible's coronoid process, a bony part of the lower jaw that sticks out near its back end. This muscle is found beneath the temporal fascia and is accessible on the temples.

Unclenching and clenching the jaw contracts this muscle. This muscle controls both retraction and elevation of the mandible or jawbone.

The temporal muscle receives its blood supply from the deep temporal arteries. Innervation or control of this muscle comes from the trigeminal nerve's mandibular branch. The deep temporal nerves in this third branch control all of the mastication (chewing) muscles.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Temporalis

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