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20 Muscles of the Face & Their Functions

There are about 20 flat skeletal muscles that construct the facial structure. All of these muscles have different functions in the face. Innervated by the cranial nerve, which is the facial nerve, the muscles control all of our facial expressions. These muscles of the face can be grouped in different categories, depending on their position. Let us have a look at the 20 different muscles of our face and their functions.

20 Muscles of the Face & their Functions

20 Muscles of the Face & their Functions

Since the mouth is the part of the face that has maximum movement and function, most of the muscle groups are positioned around this.

#1. Orbicularis Oris Muscle of the Face: This facial muscle is positioned around the mouth, encircling it.

Function: The Orbicularis oris muscle of the face helps to close the mouth and also, when this muscle contracts, the mouth puckers.1

#2. Depressor Labii Inferioris Muscle of Face: This muscle of the face is located beneath the lower lip (mandible) underneath the mental foramen.

Function: The Depressor labii inferioris muscle of the face helps to depress or lower the lower lip or bottom lip.

#3. Levator Labii Superioris Muscle: This muscle is located above the upper lip and is located above the infraorbital foramen.

Function: This muscle helps to elevate the upper lip.

#4. Buccinator Muscle: This muscle forms the muscular base of the cheek, the wall of the oral cavity and the anterior part of the cheek.2 The interval between maxilla and mandible is occupied by this muscle.

Function: This facial muscle helps to hold food inside the mouth in proper position and aids in chewing. Flattening the cheeks and pulling the angle of the mouth backwards is supported by this muscle.

#5. Mentalis Muscle of the Face: The furrow between the lower lip and chin is formed by this muscle of the face. In other words, it can be said that this facial muscle is located at the tip of the chin.

Function: The Mentalis muscle is also called the pouting muscle as it helps to “pout”. However, it also helps in contracting the chin, expressing displeasure and doubt externally.

#6. Depressor Anguli Oris Muscle: In the bottom corner of the lower lip, in an angle of the mouth, the Depressor anguli oris muscle forms the lower border of mandible. The facial artery supplies blood to this muscle and this muscle is also innervated by the marginal mandibular branch of facial nerves.

Function: As this facial muscle contracts or depresses, it helps in showing a facial expression called frowning. Hence, it is also called the frowning muscle.

#7. Levator Labii Superioris Alaeque Nasi Muscle: This facial muscle forms the medial orbital wall, the wall between the nostrils and upper lip.

Function: This muscle of the face helps in elevating the upper lip and dilating the nostrils. Thus, one can snarl.

#8. Risorius Muscle of the Face: This muscle is also called the laughing muscle. It forms the depression of the cheek, in the angle of the mouth.3

Function: Risorius helps one to smile.

#9. Levator Anguli Oris Muscle: Right underneath the infraorbital foramen in an angle of the mouth, is the Levator anguli oris muscle that fills the opening.

#10. Zygomaticus Major and Minor Muscles of the Face: In an angular position, beneath the cheekbones is the Zygomaticus major muscle and Zygomaticus minor muscle that form the cheeks. They create the zygomatic arch.

Function: The Zygomaticus major muscle of the face helps in lifting the corners of the lips when one smiles. Usually the Zygomaticus major muscle is a single muscle strand. It is thought that differentiation in this muscle structure causes dimple in the cheeks of some people. The Zygomaticus minor muscle on the other hand helps in creating a sad facial expression by drawing the upper lip backwards.

#11. Nasalis Muscle: On both sides of the nasal cartilage, the Nasalis muscle is located.

Function: This facial muscle compresses the nasal cartilage and thus aids in “flaring” of the nostrils to prevent water from getting inside the nose when underwater.

#12. Procerus Muscle: This pyramid shaped muscle of the face is located in the lower part of the forehead, between the eyebrows, covering a part of the nasal bone.4

Function: The Procerus muscle of the face helps in bringing or pulling down the skin between the eyebrows to express anger.

#13. Orbicularis Oculi Muscle of the Face: This facial muscle is what encircles the eyelids.

Function: It helps to close the eyes.

#14. Depressor Supercilii Muscle: The Depressor Supercilii Muscle is also a muscle of the eyes. Some people say that it is connected with the Orbicularis Oculi Muscle.

Function: It helps in the movement of the eyebrows.

#15. Corrugator Supercilii Muscle: This pyramid shaped small and narrow muscle is located beneath the Frontalis muscle, at the end of the eyebrow and above the Orbicularis Oculi Muscle.

Function: This is the muscle of the face that causes the wrinkles in forehead. Corrugator supercilii muscle also helps in expressing anger or expression of suffering and is another frowning muscle.

#16. Occipitofrontalis Muscle of Face: The Occipitofrontalis muscle is also known as the Epicranius muscle and it covers some parts of the skulls. Located near the occipital bone and frontal belly, as well as occipital belly, this facial muscle helps in facial expression.

#17. Temporoparietalis Muscle: This muscle is located on both sides of the skull, above the ears.

Function: It helps in ear elevation.

#18. Auricular Muscle: There are three distinct types of the Auricular muscle. These are –

Anterior Auricular Muscle – It is a fan shaped and thin muscle. It is also the smallest of the three Auricular muscles. This muscle has pale and indistinct fibres.

Posterior auricular muscle – This muscle consists of 2 to 3 fleshy fibres.

Superior Auricular Muscle – This too is a fan shaped and thin muscle, but the largest of the three Auricular muscles.

#19. Outer Ear: It is the external part of the ear. It helps in gathering sound energy.

#20. Depressor Septi Nasi Muscle of the Face: This small muscle lies between the muscular structure of upper lip and mucous membrane.

Function: It works as an antagonist of other nasal muscles.


These are the main muscles of the face and they all serve either distinct functions or help in the function or action of the other muscles.


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 24, 2019

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