Human anatomy concerns the structure of the human body. Anatomy is often interpreted as the study of only those structures that can be seen with the naked eye (gross anatomy). Anatomy also covers the study of structure at the cellular (histology) and subcellular level (ultrastructure). The formation (embryology) and growth of anatomical structures (developmental anatomy) influence their organization, appearance, and their relationship to other structures and often explain gross anatomical arrangement.
Historically, physiology (the study of the function of the body) was regarded as a separate subject from anatomy but the relationships between structure and function (functional anatomy) is critical to understanding how the body works at all levels. Most modern dental curricula now have some degree of integration between anatomy and physiology to emphasize their interrelationship in the study of the human body. It is impossible to recognize changes in structure brought about by disease and their clinical manifestations and effects on function without an understanding of healthy structure and function. It is impossible to use any surgical procedures effectively and safely without a good working knowledge of the anatomy of the relevant part of the body. In clinical work, internal structures often need to be located accurately even when they cannot be visualized directly. A good example of this is the need to be able to locate the nerves supplying the teeth in order to deliver local anaesthetic accurately prior to carrying out a restoration or extraction. Fortunately, most structures have a fairly constant relationship to surface features (surface anatomy) to allow their position to be determined with considerable accuracy. Information about deep structures can also be obtained by the use of imaging techniques such as X-rays or scanning technology. Interpretation of radiographs and scans requires knowledge of the radiographic appearance of normal body structures (radiological anatomy). Surface and radiological anatomy are obviously of great practical importance and are covered in the relevant sections of the book.
The principal aim of this book is to provide you with sufficient practical information about the anatomy of the human body to form a basis on which to build your clinical skills and practice. Gross anatomy, including functional, clinical, surface, and radiological anatomy will be covered, together with embryology and developmental anatomy where relevant. Histology and ultrastructure will be only included where they aid understanding of structure and function.
Gross anatomy can be studied in two ways. One method is to take each region of the body in turn and examine all the structures found there and their relationships to each other; this is regional or topographical anatomy. It is the anatomy that surgeons need to know so that they are always aware of the structures they will encounter in the area of the body in which they specialize. The second method is to deal with all aspects of each of the body systems in turn; this is systemic anatomy. Ideally, systemic and regional anatomy go hand in hand; systemic anatomy gives a whole picture of several structures forming a system and regional anatomy examines the structures from different systems contributing to a particular region. For example, when you encounter a blood vessel in one region, you would need to know where it came from and where it was going to beyond that immediate region before subjecting it to any surgical procedure; you could then assess the likely consequences of your actions elsewhere in the body. In this book, the areas of the body most important to the practice of dentistry are considered on a regional anatomy basis. However, it is easier to understand the anatomy of a specific area if you build up in your mind a picture of the systemic anatomy of the structures you find there. In other words, try and discover the plan or pattern of an area before studying the detail.
As a prelude to the important aspects of regional anatomy, Section 1 presents brief descriptions of the major body systems relevant to the practice of dentistry to enable you to see the overall pattern of the body. These chapters are also a useful orientation for students entering dental schools without a biological background. This introductory section concludes with a brief outline of early embryological development. The relevant dev/>