Bones of the Face

By By Amanda Garland DPT, ATC

Bones of the Face

The facial bones do not move much, except for the jaw bone or mandible. The other bones form the face by completing the orbits, the sockets for your eyes, leaving room for the nose, and creating the jaw and mouth. The mandible and the vomer are single bones, and all others are seen in pairs located on each side of the face.

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Bones in the Head

Basic anatomy of the bones of the face:

There are 14 bones of the face that include:

– Vomer (1)

– Maxilla (2)

– Mandible (1) 

– Nasal bones (2)

– Palatine bones (2)

– Lacrimal bones (2)

– Zygomatic bones (2)

– Inferior Nasal Concha (2)


Descriptions of each of the bones of the face:


  • The vomer forms the lower part of the nasal septum, which forms the nose.


  • This is the fixed upper portion of your jaw.


  • The mandible is the lower part of the jaw. This then is the strongest, largest, and lowest bone of the face. The mandible is the only movable bone of the skull, and it serves also to hold the lower teeth in place.

Nasal bones

  • These are 2 small bones varying in size and form per individual. They are placed side by side in the middle and upper part of the face. 

Palatine bones

  • The palatine bones are 2 irregular-shaped bones that combine with the maxilla and form the hard palate.

Lacrimal bones

  • The lacrimal bones are small and fragile bones of the face. They are situated at the front of the orbit. They serve a function in the process of lacrimation or crying. A depression in the lacrimal bones creates a holding spot for the lacrimal sac where tears collect.

Zygomatic bones

  • The zygomatic bones are better known as the cheekbones. 

Inferior Nasal Concha

  • The inferior nasal concha is one of three paired nasal conchae in the nose. These are a part of the face. However, the middle and superior nasal conchae arise from the cranial portion of the skull and are defined as cranial bones.

Signs and symptoms of injury to bones of the face

Facial fractures are broken bones that can occur anywhere in the face. These include the nose, cheekbones, bones around the eyes, and the upper and lower jaw. Most facial fractures are a result of trauma to the face. The trauma can include a motor vehicle crash, sports injury, fall, or fight. The symptoms of a facial fracture include:

  • a broken nose (nasal fracture)
  • pain, swelling, and bruising
  • nosebleeds
  • difficulty breathing
  • pain specifically around the eyes
  • deformed cheek, head, or nose
  • pain with opening/closing the jaw
  • difficulty with eyesight
  • “black eye”
  • Numbness around the eye, lip, or chin

When to seek medical care for a fracture to bones of the face

If you experience a fracture to a bone of the face, you should seek medical care as soon as possible. Some fractures may affect your respiratory system, airway passages, central nervous system, and/or vision.  

Diagnosing a fracture to the bones of the face

A medical professional will perform a physical examination and tests to determine the bones affected and the extent of the injury. An X-ray will aid in the definitive diagnosis of a fracture. 

Treatment for a fracture to bones of the face

It may be necessary for the physician to reduce the fracture depending on the injury’s extent and location. This may include the need for surgery to place pins, wires, or screws to set the bone in proper alignment. 

The bones of the face can be very fragile, and all serve an underlying purpose. It is important to be aware that an injury can be serious, and one shouldn’t wait to get medical care. It is important to take care of our faces!

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By: Amanda Garland DPT, ATC

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