The lateral pterygoid muscle, a heterogeneous unit implicated in temporomandibular disorder: A literature review

Sophie Desmons*, François Graux, Mounir Atassi, Philippe Libersa, Pierre Hubert Dupas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

12 Citations (Scopus)


Based on its anatomical relationships, the lateral pterygoid muscle is strongly linked with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It plays a major role in mastication. Embryological, histological, and anatomical knowledge define the lateral pterygoid muscle as a single muscle with a penniform structure. The various results of electromyographic (EMG) studies describe a complex physiology with a chronological contraction of the layers during the masticatory cycle. The sequential contraction of the layers of the lateral pterygoid muscle is the result of a selective neuronal activation induced by the masticatory Central Pattern Generator (mCPG). This neurophysiological theory highlights the essential role of the reticular formation in oral motor control. The sensitivity of those neurological structures to chronic emotional stress is one of the possible explanations for the appearance of oral parafunctions accompanied by a modification of pain perception and a disorganized muscular activation, determining factors in temporomandibular disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalCranio - Journal of Craniomandibular Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)

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