The maxillary artery (latin: arteria maxillaris) is the largest terminal branch of the external carotid artery that arises at the back of the neck of mandible. The maxillary artery supplies deep structures of the face, such as the mandible, maxilla, teeth, muscles of mastication, palate, nose and part of the cranial dura mater.
At its origin, the maxillary artery is embedded in the parotid gland. Then it runs through the infratemporal fossa and via the pterygomaxillary fissure enters the pterygopalatine fossa, where the maxillary artery divides into four branches, and gives off several side branches.
Topographically the maxillary artery can be divided into three parts: mandibular, pterygoid and pterygopalatine.
From the mandibular part the maxillary artery gives off five branches:
- deep auricular artery,
- anterior tympanic artery,
- middle meningeal artery,
- accessory meningeal artery,
- inferior alveolar artery.
All these branches of the maxillary artery enter and supply bones of the skull.
The pterygoid part of the maxillary artery gives off four branches:
- deep temporal artery,
- pterygoid artery,
- Masseteric artery,
- buccal artery.
These branches supply the corresponding muscles.
The pterygopalatine part of the maxillary artery provides four branches that accompany similarly named branches of the maxillary nerve. These branches include:
- posterior superior alveolar artery,
- infraorbital artery,
- descending palatine artery,
- sphenopalatine artery.
Inferior alveolar artery
The inferior alveolar artery (also known as inferior dental artery, latin: arteria alveolaris inferior) is a branch of the maxillary artery that supplies the mylohyoid muscle, mandible, tooth sockets, lower teeth, skin and muscles of the chin.
The inferior alveolar artery descends in the infratemporal fossa. Before the inferior alveolar artery enters the mandibular foramen it gives off a mylohyoid branch which runs in the mylohyoid groove on the inner surface of the ramus of the mandible. The mylohyoid artery ramifies in the muscle and anastomoses with the submental artery. Then the inferior alveolar artery runs along the mandibular canal supplying the mandible, tooth sockets and teeth, and divides into the incisive and mental branches near the first premolar. The incisive branch of the inferior alveolar artery continues forward below the incisor teeth to the midline where it forms anastomoses with the same artery of the contralateral side. The mental artery emerges onto the face via the mental foramen and supplies the chin, and forms anastomoses with the submental and inferior labial arteries.
The mental artery (latin: arteria mentalis) is a terminal branch of the inferior alveolar artery (a branch of the maxillary artery). It supplies the skin and muscles in the chin region.
The mental artery separates from the inferior alveolar artery within the mandibular canal and emerges onto the face via the mental foramen. The mental artery anastomoses with the inferior labial and submental arteries.