The human skull as a whole is referred to as the cranium. There are twenty two bones in this structure.
The skull or cranium is then broken down into two regions: the Cranial and facial bone region. This article will detail the facial bones, but the focus will be on the bones that make up the cranial region.
The area at the front of the skull is which is referred to as the facial bone region. There are fourteen facial bones. They consist of the following bones: Mandible , Maxilla (2), Palatine bone (2), Zygomatic bone, Nasal bone, Lacrimal bone, Vomer and the Inferior nasal conchae.
The Cranial region is the part of the skull that houses the brain. It consists of eight bones. These are the Frontal, Parietal, Sphenoid, Temporal, Ethmoid and Occipital bones.
The Frontal bone, as its name suggests, sits at the front of the skull. It is roughly the size of the area of the forehead. Its function is to protect the brain, and to provide a filling between the cranium and the bones of the face. It also forms the top part of the eye orbits.
The Parietal bones, of which there are two (either side of the skull), make up part of the roof and the upper side of the cranium. Like most skull bones, they are there to protect the brain.
The Sphenoid bone looks in appearance very much like a butterfly. It sits at the base of the Skull. Its surface connects either side with the surface of both Temporal bones.
The two Temporal bones are situated at the base of the skull on either side. They are there to protect the brain, but also to help support the face region.
The Ethmoid bone bone is square or cube in shape and is located behind the nose. Its function is to protect vital and sensitive organs and to support the eye socket.
And last but not least, there is the Occipital bone. This bone is the round curve at the back (bottom) of the skull. It helps protect the brain, but also is part of the skull that allows a space for the spinal cord to pass through the skull to the brain.
It is also worth mentioning the sutures of the skull. These are where the different bones are joined together. Therefore, sutures are classed as joints. They are what is called an immobile joint. They are bound together by small bone fibres called Sharpey’s fibres.
There is some movement in these joints. Just how much is subject to debate. In Cranial Osteopathy they see these sutures as moving joints that participate in the respiratory system. As people breathe, the bones of the skull move at the suture lines.
Within the scientific community, the status of Cranial Osteopathy is controversial, but most would admit there is some moment between the different bones of the skull.