The 14 Facial Bones: Anatomy & Functions

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  • 0:00 How Many Bones?
  • 0:15 Facial Bones and their…
  • 2:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dominic Corsini
How many bones are in your face? One? Two? Ten? Amazingly, there are over twenty bones that make up the human skull, but only fourteen of these are facial bones. This lesson focuses on the fourteen facial bones, includes illustrations from an actual skeleton, and outlines the functions of these bones. A summary and brief quiz are also included.

How Many Bones?

This photograph depicts the facial features of a skeleton:

Facial Bones
Facial Bones

Here's the question: How many bones are shown in this picture? One? Two? A dozen? In this photograph, there are fourteen bones of the face. That's where we'll focus our attention. What are these bones called and what do they actually do?

Facial Bones and Their Functions

Before we begin our investigation into facial bones, let's refer to a graphic for assistance. Here is a labeled diagram of the fourteen facial bones:

Facial Bone Names
Facial Bone Names

Let's begin with the nasal bones. In this case, we're actually looking at two small bones, which are located just above the nasal opening. On our graphic, they're shown in purple. These oblong bones form the bridge and roof of your nose. If someone were to actually break their nose (and not just the cartilage that forms it), they'd likely be breaking one of these bones.

To either side of the nasal bones are the upper reaches of the maxilla. The maxilla is another pair of bones that perform several important functions. They form the lower parts of the eye orbital, they hold your upper teeth in place, and each maxilla contains a sinus, which is a small hole in the bone that helps drain fluid from the nasal cavity.

While the maxilla is responsible for holding the upper teeth, it's the job of the mandible to hold the lower teeth. The mandible is commonly referred to as your lower jaw. Additionally, the mandible helps form the sides of your face, produces the structure of your chin, and functions as the only movable facial bone.

Next, we come to an interesting little bone called the vomer. On a graphic, the vomer appears as a tiny bump near the bottom of your nasal cavity, however, it's actually larger than it appears. The function of the vomer is to separate the nasal cavity into right and left sides. To better assist your understanding, check out this image:


To the sides of our eye sockets are our cheekbones. More specifically, these are called the zygomatic bones. Once again, we're looking at another pair of bones. These bones form our cheeks and the outside edges of the eye orbital. If you run your finger around your eye socket, it's easy to feel the zygomatic bone(s).

Here's where things get more challenging. The final three bones all exist in pairs and are found in your face. This makes easy viewing somewhat problematic. Yet, each pairing is important for distinct reasons.

Our initial pair of interior facial bones are the lacrimal bones. The lacrimal bones are the smallest bones of the face. They help form the eye orbits and, a more relatable feature, your tear ducts.

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