Hard and soft palate

Hard and soft palateAnatomical features of the palate. Functions of the palate. Blood supply and innervation of the palate
~ 4 min

In this note, we will consider the anatomy of the palate (palatum).

It forms the roof of the oral cavity and is composed of two parts: the hard palate (palatum durum) and the soft palate (palatum molle).

Hard palate (palatum durum)
Hard palate (palatum durum)
HSoft palate (palatum molle)
HSoft palate (palatum molle)

The basis of the hard palate are the palatine processes of the maxillary bones and the horizontal plates of the palatine bones.

Palatine processes of the maxillary bones
Palatine processes of the maxillary bones
Horizontal plates of the palatine bones
Horizontal plates of the palatine bones

There is the palatine raphe (raphe palati) on the mucous membrane along the midline.

Palatine raphe (raphe palati)
Palatine raphe (raphe palati)
Palatine raphe (raphe palati)
Palatine raphe (raphe palati)

Several transverse folds or palatine rugae (plicae palatinae transversae) diverge from it in both directions.

Palatine rugae (plicae palatinae transversae)
Palatine rugae (plicae palatinae transversae)

The soft palate is formed by the palatine aponeurosis and the muscles of the soft palate, which are woven into this aponeurosis.

The unattached posterior border of the palate is called the soft palate or velum (velum palatinum).

Velum (velum palatinum)
Velum (velum palatinum)

It has a small, rounded process called the uvula (uvula palatina).

Uvula (uvula palatina)
Uvula (uvula palatina)

Two arches start from the lateral margins of the soft palate.

The palatoglossal arch (arcus palatoglossus), which descends to the lateral surface of the tongue.

Palatoglossal arch (arcus palatoglossus)
Palatoglossal arch (arcus palatoglossus)

The palatopharyngeal arch (arcus palatopharyngeus), which is directed inferiorly to the lateral wall of the pharynx.

Palatopharyngeal arch (arcus palatopharyngeus)
Palatopharyngeal arch (arcus palatopharyngeus)

Between both arches on each side, there is a tonsillar fossa or tonsillar sinus (fossa tonsillaris), in which the palatine tonsil (tonsilla palatina) is located.

Tonsillar fossa (fossa tonsillaris)
Tonsillar fossa (fossa tonsillaris)
Palatine tonsil (tonsilla palatina)
Palatine tonsil (tonsilla palatina)

Let’s look at the muscles of the soft palate.

The tensor veli palatini muscle (m. tensor veli palatini), which arises from the cartilaginous part of the auditory tube and the spine of the sphenoid bone. It weaves into the aponeurosis of the soft palate. It tenses the soft palate and dilates the lumen of the auditory tube.

Tensor veli palatini muscle (m. tensor veli palatini)
Tensor veli palatini muscle (m. tensor veli palatini)
Tensor veli palatini muscle (m. tensor veli palatini)
Tensor veli palatini muscle (m. tensor veli palatini)

The levator veli palatini muscle (m. levator veli palatini), which arises from the inferior surface of the petrous part of the temporal bone and on the cartilaginous part of the auditory tube. It weaves into the aponeurosis of the soft palate. The contraction of this paired muscle raises the soft palate superiorly, which prevents food from entering the nasal cavity during swallowing.

Levator veli palatini muscle (m. levator veli palatini)
Levator veli palatini muscle (m. levator veli palatini)
Levator veli palatini muscle (m. levator veli palatini)
Levator veli palatini muscle (m. levator veli palatini)

The musculus uvulae (m. uvulae), which is the only unpaired muscle . It arises from the posterior nasal spine and the palatine aponeurosis. It weaves into the mucous membrane of the uvula. The contraction of this muscle raises and shortens the uvula.

Musculus uvulae (m. uvulae)
Musculus uvulae (m. uvulae)
Musculus uvulae (m. uvulae)
Musculus uvulae (m. uvulae)

The palatoglossus muscle (m. palatoglossus) and palatopharyngeal muscle (m. palatopharyngeus), which are located deep into the eponymous arches. The contraction of these muscles lowers the soft palate inferiorly, reducing the size of the fauces.

Palatoglossus muscle (m. palatoglossus)
Palatoglossus muscle (m. palatoglossus)
Palatopharyngeal muscle (m. palatopharyngeus)
Palatopharyngeal muscle (m. palatopharyngeus)

Blood supply

The ascending palatine artery (a. palatina ascendens), which is a branch of the facial artery (a. facialis), supplies the soft palate with arterial blood.

Venous drainage

The venous blood is drained into the pterygoid venous plexus (plexus venosus pterygoideus). The sensory innervation is provided by the lesser palatine nerve (n. palatinus minor) and the pharyngeal branches of the glossopharyngeal nerve (nervus glossopharyngeus).

Innervation

The greater palatine nerve (n. palatinus major), which is a branch of the facial nerve (n. facialis), is responsible for gustatory sensitivity.

Motor innervation is provided by the vagus nerve (n. vagus). Only the tensor veli palatini muscle is innervated by the mandibular nerve (n. mandibularis)

Parasympathetic innervation of the salivary glands is carried out by the otic ganglion (g. oticum).

Dictionary

Hard and soft palate

Palate
palatum
Hard palate
palatum durum
Palatine raphe
raphe palati
Transverse folds
plicae palatinae transversae
Soft palate
palatum molle
Tensor veli palatini muscle
m. tensor veli palatini
Levator veli palatini muscle
m. levator veli palatini
Palatoglossus muscle
m. palatoglossus
Palatopharyngeus muscle
m. palatopharyngeus
Musculus uvulae
m. uvulae
Velum
velum palatinum
Palatoglossal arch
arcus palatoglossus
Palatopharyngeal arch
arcus palatopharyngeus
Tonsillar fossa
fossa tonsillaris
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