The facial nerve is seventh of the twelve paired cranial nerves. It emerges from the brainstem between the pons and the medulla.
Its main function is motor control of most of the facial muscles and muscles of the inner ear. It also supplies parasympathetic fibres to the submandibular gland and sublingual glands via chorda tympani nerve and the submandibular ganglion, and to the lacrimal gland via the pterygopalatine ganglion. In addition, it receives taste sensations from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue.
The facial nerve enters the inner ear through the internal acoustic meatus, emerges from the stylomastoid foramen and passes through the parotid gland, where it divides into five major branches.
The five main branches of the facial nerve are from top to bottom:
Bell's palsy is the result of damage to the facial nerve.