The Dimple-making mechanism 
beneath  the cheek and jowls

Side view of the superficial face and head muscles


The Buccinator muscle: the dimple making muscle

The Buccinator (buck-sin-ate-er) is shown below in red. We've mercilessly sawed away part of the jaw bone and snipped several muscles so you can see where it's origin is. (We didn't really do that, I just drew a picture that looks like we did.) The buccinator's origin is in a small bone that's really at the back of the mouth called the "Pterygoid Wing" . "Pter" is Latin for bird. So it translates as "Bird wing" and this bone really does look like a bird wing. Check it out in an anatomy book. 

If you look in the mirror and say "ahh", you'll see what looks like a very flat upside down "v" in the back of your throat. Your tonsils attach to this too - this "v". They're indirectly attached to the same mooring as the buccinator: the pterygoid wing. I'm only telling you this to make this anatomy stuff a little more interesting. (And maybe to impress you with how smart I am...c'mon, feed an old guy's vanity :-)

"Buccinator" highlighted in red

OK, where were we? Oh yes, the buccinator. The origin is in the pterygoid wing and it's insertion is in the sides of the orbicularis oris (that's the circular muscle around the whole perimeter of the mouth) . When this muscle - the buccinator -  contracts (as it does when you grimace or smile or grin with cheesy gusto), it pulls everything back towards your ears causing the tissue in your cheeks and jowls to bunch up exactly the same way a sash around the middle of your living room curtains bunches them up. Does that flash a visual into your brain? If not, look at these two pictures:

1) The buccinator pulls the jowls of the cheek 
towards the ear...

...the same way the sash around this curtain bunches it up: 

See how the sash dimples the curtain? This 
is the exact same effect the buccinator
applies to the cheeks and jowls

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e-mail: jeffkaz@YouCanDraw