Abstract Several finite element models of a primate cranium were used to investigate the biomechanical effects of the tooth sockets and the material behavior of the periodontal ligament (PDL) on stress and strain patterns associated with feeding. For examining the effect of tooth sockets, the unloaded sockets were modeled as devoid of teeth and PDL, filled with teeth and PDLs, or simply filled with cortical bone. The third premolar on the left side of the cranium was loaded and the PDL was treated as an isotropic, linear elastic material using published values for Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio. The remaining models, along with one of the socket models, were used to determine the effect of the PDL's material behavior on stress and strain distributions under static premolar biting and dynamic tooth loading conditions. Two models (one static and the other dynamic) treated the PDL as cortical bone. The other two models treated it as a ligament with isotropic, linear elastic material properties. Two models treated the PDL as a ligament with hyperelastic properties, and the other two as a ligament with viscoelastic properties. Both behaviors were defined using published stress–strain data obtained from in vitro experiments on porcine ligament specimens. Von Mises stress and strain contour plots indicate that the effects of the sockets and PDL material behavior are local. Results from this study suggest that modeling the sockets and the PDL in finite element analyses of skulls is project dependent and can be ignored if values of stress and strain within the alveolar region are not required.