In humans, the premaxilla is referred to as the incisive bone and is the part of the maxilla which bears the incisor teeth, and encompasses the anterior nasal spine and alar region. In the nasal cavity, the premaxillary element projects higher than the maxillary element behind. The palatal portion of the premaxilla is a bony plate with a generally transverse orientation. The incisive foramen is bound anteriorly and laterally by the premaxilla and posteriorly by the palatine process of the maxilla.
In the embryo, the nasal region develops from neural crest cells which start their migration down to the face during the fourth week of gestation. A pair of symmetrical nasal placodes (thickenings in the epithelium) are each divided into medial and lateral processes by the nasal pits. The medial processes become the septum, philtrum, and premaxilla.
The first ossification centers in the area of the future premaxilla appear during the seventh week above the germ of the second incisor on the outer surface of the nasal capsule.
After eleven weeks an accessory ossification center develops into the alar region of the premaxilla. Then a premaxillary process grow upwards to fuse with the frontal process of the maxilla; and later expands posteriorly to fuse with the alveolar process of the maxilla. The boundary between the premaxilla and the maxilla remains discernible after birth and a suture is often observable up to five years of age.
In bilateral cleft lip and palate, the growth pattern of the premaxilla differs significantly from the normal case; in utero growth is excessive and directed more horizontally, resulting in a protrusive premaxilla at birth.