Journal of Undergraduate Research


3D model, lingual nerve branches, international anatomy, dental


Life Sciences


Physiology and Developmental Biology


The floor of the oral cavity is covered by a mucosal layer to protect underlying structures against the digestive events of the mouth. Ducts of the salivary glands open into this mucosa along the lingual frenulum. The lingual nerve from the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve immediately begins to branch after passing through the foramen ovale, and continues its descent medial to the inferior alveolar nerve. Just superior to the angle of the mandible, the nerve turns anteriorly 90 degrees and continues a lateral to medial path to the anterior of the mouth. It crosses the submandibular salivary duct inferiorly, and becomes more superficial as it reaches the anterior portion of the tongue. This nerve sends branches into the posterior, inferior portion of the sublingual salivary gland, and to various locations in the lateral parts of the tongue. An anatomical literature search of conventional atlases of human anatomy revealed that descriptions of lingual nerve innervation of the gingival are absent, with the exception of Gray’s Anatomy, which teaches that the lingual gingiva in some cases receive innervation from branches of the lingual nerve (Gray’s Anatomy edited by Peter L. Williams)i. Henry Gray, however, does not include a verbal or visual description of these branches, i.e. the location, nerve course, and whether they pass through the sublingual salivary gland or not. The distinct characteristic found in my first dissection was the passing of lingual nerve fibers through the sublingual salivary gland before entering the gingiva.

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