Bone: Maxilla
Side view. Maxilla visible at bottom left, in green.
Front view. Maxilla visible at center, in yellow.
Gray's subject #38 157
Precursor 1st branchial arch[1]
MeSH Maxilla
/ Elsevier

The maxilla (plural: maxillae) is a fusion of two bones along the palatal fissure that form the upper jaw. This is similar to the mandible (lower jaw), which is also a fusion of two halves at the mental symphysis. Sometimes (e.g. in bony fish), the maxilla is called "upper maxilla," with the mandible being the "lower maxilla." Conversely, in birds the upper jaw is often called "upper mandible."



The alveolar process of the maxilla holds the upper teeth, and is referred to as the maxillary arch. The maxilla attaches laterally to the zygomatic bones (cheek bones).

The maxilla assists in forming the boundaries of three cavities:

  • the roof of the mouth
  • the floor and lateral wall of the nasal antrum
  • the wall of the orbit

The maxilla also enters into the formation of two fossae: the infratemporal and pterygopalatine, and two fissures, the inferior orbital and pterygomaxillary.


Each half of the fused maxilla consists of:


The maxilla articulates with nine bones:


Sometimes it articulates with the orbital surface, and sometimes with the lateral pterygoid plate of the sphenoid.

In other animals

In most vertebrates, the foremost part of the upper jaw, to which the incisors are attached in mammals consists of a separate pair of bones, the premaxillae. These fuse with the maxilla proper to form the bone found in humans, and some other mammals. In bony fish, amphibians, and reptiles, both maxilla and premaxilla are relatively plate-like bones, forming only the sides of the upper jaw, and part of the face, with the premaxilla also forming the lower boundary of the nostrils. However, in mammals, the bones have curved inward, creating the palatine process and thereby also forming part of the roof of the mouth.[2]

Birds do not have a maxilla in the strict sense; the corresponding part of their beaks (mainly consisting of the premaxilla) is called "upper mandible."

Cartilaginous fish, such as sharks also lack a true maxilla. Their upper jaw is instead formed from a cartilagenous bar that is not homologous with the bone found in other vertebrates.[2]

Additional images

See also


  1. ^ hednk-023Embryology at UNC
  2. ^ a b Romer, Alfred Sherwood; Parsons, Thomas S. (1977). The Vertebrate Body. Philadelphia, PA: Holt-Saunders International. pp. 217–243. ISBN 0-03-910284-X. 

1.sicher oral anatomy 2. human anatomy by grey's 3.controversies in oral and maxillofacial surgery by peter warthington

External links

This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained within it may be outdated.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • maxilla — jaw, jawbone, 1670s, from L. maxilla upper jaw, dim. of mala jaw, cheekbone. Maxilla stands to mala as axilla, armpit, stands to ala wing [Klein]. Related: Maxillar; maxilliform …   Etymology dictionary

  • maxilla — f. anat. Hueso par que limita la boca en su parte superior y forma parte de las cavidades orbitales y de las fosas nasales. En la zona superior se encuentran los senos maxilares y en el borde inferior se insertan los dientes. También se denomina… …   Diccionario médico

  • Maxilla — Max*il la, n.; pl. {Maxill[ae]}. [L., dim. of mala jaw, jawbone.] 1. (Anat.) (a) The bone of either the upper or the under jaw. (b) The bone, or principal bone, of the upper jaw, the bone of the lower jaw being the mandible. [Now commonly used in …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Maxilla — (lat.), Kinnlade. M. inferior, Unterkiefer; M. superior, Oberkiefer. Daher Maxillar..., auf den Ober od. Unterkiefer sich beziehend; so Maxillararterien, s.u. Kopfarterien A) b). Maxillarnerven, s. Gehirnnerven E) b) u. c). Maxillarvenen, Venen… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Maxilla — (lat., Maxille, Kiefer), bei den Wirbeltieren der Oberkiefer, bei den Gliedertieren der Unter oder Mittelkiefer …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Maxilla — (lat.), Kinnlade, Kiefer; maxillār, auf den Ober oder Unterkiefer sich beziehend …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Maxilla — Maxilla, lat., die Kinnlade; maxillar, die Kinnlade betreffend …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • maxilla — ► NOUN (pl. maxillae) 1) Anatomy the bone of the upper jaw. 2) Zoology (in arthropods) each of a pair of chewing mouthparts. DERIVATIVES maxillary adjective. ORIGIN Latin, jaw …   English terms dictionary

  • maxilla — [mak sil′ə] n. pl. maxillae [maks il′ē] [L, dim., akin to mala, a jaw] 1. in vertebrates, the upper jaw, or a major bone or cartilage of the upper jaw: see SKULL 2. in most arthropods, as insects or crabs, one of the first or second pair of… …   English World dictionary

  • maxilla — Appendage next behind maxillule serving functions in feeding and respiration. (Syn. second maxilla) [Moore and McCormick, 1969]. One of a pair of two sets gnathal appendages situated immediately posteroventral to mandibles [Hobbs and Jass, 1988] …   Crustacea glossary

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