YOU’ VE NEVER HEARD OF
Dr Adam Taor
Buccinator: dimples, chewing and trumpets
What is it?
A thin muscle in the wall of our cheek. It runs from the back of our jaw bones, near the molar teeth, and converges at the corner of our mouth. What does it do? It forms a big part of the side wall of the mouth, and when it tenses it compresses our cheeks tight against our teeth. It also pulls on the corner of our mouth, often making dimples in our cheeks. What’s it for? Mastication: it helps keep food between our teeth so we can chew (masticate) it. What’s it got to do with trumpets? People playing wind instruments need their buccinator muscle to help tighten their cheeks and purse their lips so they can blow air out of their mouths under pressure. That’s why it’s also called the trumpet muscle, and buccinator is in fact Latin for trumpeter. The Trumpeter Swan is also known by the scientific name of Cygnus buccinator.