2-10. NERVE SUPPLY OF THE JAWS AND TEETH
Twelve pairs of cranial nerves arise in the brain and give off branches to the
structures of the head and face. These nerves leave the cranial cavity through foramina
in the base of the cranium. The fifth cranial nerve (the trigeminal nerve) is the largest of
the twelve pairs. See figure 2-13. It is of particular importance in dentistry since it
provides the nerve supply to the jaws and the teeth. The fifth cranial nerve contains
both motor and sensory fibers. Thus, it has a motor root supplying motor impulses to
the muscles of mastication and a sensory root supplying sensory impulses from the
structures of the head and face. Before leaving the cranial cavity, the sensory root
divides into three branches or divisions.
Figure 2-13. Trigeminal nerve and its major divisions.