Levator Labii Superioris muscle: exposing your upper teeth

levaotr labii superioris muscle

We smile and grin depending on how we feel, but it is levator labii superioris that is responsible for lifting the upper lips and showing upper set of teeth, putting a serious mouth or turning the upper lip to the side.

levator labii superioris

Levator labii superioris is one of the many muscles of the buccolabial group, a part of the muscles involved in facial expression. There’s one at each side of the nose, originating from the zygomatic bone and the maxilla, just above the infraorbital foramen. It inserts itself as a blend with the other muscles of the upper lip.

Levator Labii superioris Muscle (Anterolateral View)
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What does the Levator Labii Superioris Muscle do?

It lifts the upper lip, exposing the upper front row of teeth anchored to the maxilla bone. This muscle is involved indirectly in certain movements of the lips, like pursing to either side, anger expression and grimacing. There’s a more direct involvement in making the expression of sneering and grinning.

The buccolabial (mouth and lips) group of facial expression muscles has other muscles alongside levator labii superioris, such as:

  • Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi
  • Depressor anguli oris
  • Mentalis
  • Orbicularis oris
  • Levator anguli oris
  • Risorius
  • Zygomaticus major and minor
  • Depressor labii inferioris
  • Buccinator

Also called the sneering muscle, because when we make the expression of sneering, we pull the upper lips using them, to express disagreement and disgust.

Levator labii superioris and gummy smile repair

It’s possible to correct a smile that shows too much of the upper gums, with an approach explored by this study, a myotomy of this muscle, which turned out to be successful. This provides great hope for people who feel self conscious about flashing a smile that exposes a lot of gum, especially after having braces to adjust the upper teeth positions.

Sneering and expressing disgust involves the use of this muscle.

Levator Labii Superioris


Facial nerve (VII)

Blood Supply

  • Ophtalmic Artery
  • Zygomatico-orbital artery
  • Angular artery

Muscle Attachments

Levator Labii Superioris origin

Maxilla superior to the infraorbital foramen

Levator Labii Superioris Insertion

Upper lips, blending with the fibers of other muscles around the mouth like orbicularis oris.


Standring, Susan. Gray’s Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice. , 2016. Print.

Sobotta Tables of MusclesJoints and Nerves, English/Latin – 2nd Edition. Print

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