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Mental Foramen – Why It Matters

The mental foramen is a tiny foramen on the mandible's front side, usually at the root of the mandibular second premolar tooth. The foramen is generally positioned between the canine and the first molar. Through it, the mental nerve, a terminal branch of the inferior alveolar nerve, and the mental artery exit the mandibular canal.

The mental nerve divides into three branches after passing through the mental foramen, innervating areas such as the chin and lower lip. It is referenced in anesthetic procedures such as intelligent/mental nerve blocks. The value of this structure in dentistry practice is mainly connected to the location of dental implants and other surgical operations in this area. When auxiliary mental foramina are present, special precautions must be taken.

Mental Foramen Structure

The mental foramen is found on the mandible's anterior side. It is located right behind the commissure of the lips and the depressor labii inferioris muscle tendon. It is located near the end of the mandibular canal, which originates on the posterior surface of the jaw at the mandibular foramen. It carries the inferior alveolar nerve (the mental nerve), the mental artery, and the mental vein.

In toothless people, the mental foramen narrows somewhat.

In 63 percent of adults, the mental foramen aligns with the longitudinal axis of the second premolar. It is usually located at the vestibular fornix and about a finger's width above the inferior border of the mandible.

In the general population, 17% of mandibles contain an extra mental foramen or foramina on at least one side, and 4% have numerous mental foramina on both sides. Most are uneven in size, with a single huge foramen dominating the rest. One percent of the mandible's side has an incisive mental foramen.

A White Skull model
A White Skull model

Mental Foramen Function

The mental foramen is one of two foramina (openings) on the mandible's anterior surface. It is a component of the mandibular canal. It carries the terminal branches of the inferior alveolar nerve and the mental vessels.

Mental Foramen Radiograph

A detailed understanding of the radiographic appearance of the standard structure is required for the radiographic detection of any illness. Intelligent diagnosis requires an understanding of the wide variety in the appearance of typical anatomical structures. On radiographs, the mental foramen is usually the anterior end of the inferior dental canal. It begins on the mandible's face aspect, near the premolars. Because of its anatomical diversity, which might mirror periapical pathosis, can provide a diagnostic difficulty radiographically.

Mental foramen variants are common, ranging from differences in the location of the foramen on the anterolateral surface of the mandible to the existence of auxiliary foramina or, in rare instances, total absence. The position of the mental foramen varies as we get older. In children, the mental foramen is usually closer to the alveolar ridge; as the teeth begin to erupt, the mental foramen begins to descend to the midpoint between the upper margin and lower border; and in adults who have had their teeth for a long time, the mental foramen moves slightly closer to the inferior wall. With the loss of teeth and bone resorption of the edentulous ridge in old age, the mental foramen advances comparatively higher towards the alveolar ridge. The mental foramen and the neighboring section of the mandibular canal are open at the alveolar edge in severe instances of resorption. The mental nerve and the terminal segment of the inferior alveolar nerve may be detected right beneath the mouth mucosa in extreme cases, depending on the degree of resorption.

This foramen shows radiographically as a tiny, oval, or spherical radiolucent spot in the mandibular premolars' apical region. The lack of a mental foramen and the presence of several Mental foramen, on the other hand, are uncommon. Dissection, surgical discoveries, conventional radiography, spiral computed tomography, and cone-beam computed tomography have all shown the existence of several mental foramen, known as accessory mental foramina.

Importance Of Mental Foramen

The mental foramen is a crucial marker during osteotomy surgeries. To prevent mental nerve damage, its placement and the likelihood of an anterior loop of the mental nerve being present mesial to the mental foramen must be evaluated before implant surgery.

People Also Ask

What Tooth Is The Mental Foramen Under?

The mental foramen is a tiny foramen on the mandible's front side, usually at the root of the mandibular second premolar tooth. The foramen is generally positioned between the canine and the first molar.

What Cranial Nerve Passes Through The Mental Foramen?

The inferior alveolar nerve, which runs down the mandibular canal, throws out branches that feed the lower teeth and gums. The mental nerve, a major extension, emerges via the mental foramen.

What Exits Through The Mental Foramen?

The nerve leaves the mental foramen at the level of the second molar tooth, having split into an incisor and a mental branch. The nerve transmits a ramus superiorly after entering the foramen, innervating the lower lip, inferior oral mucosa, and chin (mental unit).

Conclusion

The existence of anatomical differences in the maxilla and mandible is still overlooked. It is critical to emphasize that these variances may be detected during presurgical imaging tests, allowing for more precise planning and contributing to effective treatment. Because traditional radiography may fail to see differences, CBCT is critical in this procedure. Recognizing auxiliary mental foramina aids in adopting an appropriate surgical method, reducing future nerve and vascular injury in the lower premolar and molar areas.

About The Authors

Suleman Shah

Suleman Shah - Suleman Shah is a researcher and freelance writer. As a researcher, he has worked with MNS University of Agriculture, Multan (Pakistan) and Texas A & M University (USA). He regularly writes science articles and blogs for science news website immersse.com and open access publishers OA Publishing London and Scientific Times. He loves to keep himself updated on scientific developments and convert these developments into everyday language to update the readers about the developments in the scientific era. His primary research focus is Plant sciences, and he contributed to this field by publishing his research in scientific journals and presenting his work at many Conferences. Shah graduated from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (Pakistan) and started his professional carrier with Jaffer Agro Services and later with the Agriculture Department of the Government of Pakistan. His research interest compelled and attracted him to proceed with his carrier in Plant sciences research. So, he started his Ph.D. in Soil Science at MNS University of Agriculture Multan (Pakistan). Later, he started working as a visiting scholar with Texas A&M University (USA). Shah’s experience with big Open Excess publishers like Springers, Frontiers, MDPI, etc., testified to his belief in Open Access as a barrier-removing mechanism between researchers and the readers of their research. Shah believes that Open Access is revolutionizing the publication process and benefitting research in all fields.

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