The lateral pterygoid plate lies behind the back part, or tuberosity, of the upper jaw or maxilla. A muscle called the lateral pterygoid muscle attaches to the pterygoid plate. It is extremely difficult to examine or touch the muscle let alone the plate. Read on to learn more about the anatomy, purpose and impact the lateral pterygoid has on the oral cavity.
Where Is It Located?
The lateral plate is part of a fused structure that includes the medial pterygoid plate that forms with the sphenoid bone. This creates a fossa below the orbital area of the base of the skull. The pterygoid is surrounded by many vascular and nervous structures, such as the optic and maxillary nerve and the carotid artery, which leaves the area vulnerable to infections and tumors, according to the Romanian Journal of Morphology and Embryology.
The muscle attachment of the lateral pterygoid plate may be involved in oro-facial pain. The muscle can become inflamed and tender. The area of the lateral pterygoid plate in general is a tender area to touch. Thus, it should not be the sole determining factor to diagnosis temporomandibular disorder. A study published by Imaging Science in Dentistry found that an assymetrical pterygoid plate is associated with temporomandibular joint pain.
What Is Its Purpose?
The lateral pterygoid muscle, in conjunction with other muscles, opens the jaw, notes the World Journal of Radiology. The pterygoid plates in some limited implant cases may be used to help stabilize the dental implant placed in the tuberosity area. The use of the plate to stabilize an implant requires clear three dimensional radiographic imaging to identify its location. A complication in the area would be that the implant penetrated into the vascular area of the fossa instead of the plate.
How Does It Impact the Oral Cavity?
During jaw surgery to move the maxilla into a better position for function and aesthetics, the plate may be fractured. The fracture can lead to severe bleeding in the area because of the location of major arteries. However, this is an infrequent complication because of modern, advanced instrumentation and three-dimensional imaging. A fractured pterygoid plate is often association with mid-face and skull base trauma, says JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. Because of the connection of the lateral pterygoid muscle to the condyle of the mandible, trauma to the lower jaw can lead to an inadvertent fracture of the lateral pterygoid plate. A fractured can be determined by a CT scan or other radiographic imaging performed by a radiologist.
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