QS Study

The soft palate is a movable, muscular fold, suspended from the posterior border of the hard palate. It is located posteriorly. It is mobile and comprised of muscle fibers covered by a mucous membrane. The soft palate is a movable, muscular fold suspended from the posterior border of the hard plate.

Gross anatomy –

The soft palate has two surfaces – anterior and posterior, two borders superior and inferior.

  • Anteriorly it is connected to the bony hard palate via an aponeurotic plate at the level of the vibrating line.
  • Posteriorly it has no borders and hangs at an inferior angle towards the larynx, where it dangles the uvula in its midline.
  • superiorly by the respiratory mucosa of the nasal cavity.
  • inferiorly by the mucosa of the oral cavity.

Structure –

The soft palate is composed of –

(1) Mucous membrane: Which covers the upper & lower surface of the soft palate. The mucosa on the oral surface of the soft palate also includes some taste buds (particularly in children) and lymphoid follicles.

(2) Palatine aponeurosis: It is a fibrous sheet attached to the posterior border of the hard palate. In the submucosa on both the surfaces are mucous glands, which are in loads around the uvula and on the oral aspect of the soft palate.

(3) Muscles:

  1. Tensor veli palatini.
  2. Levator veli palatini.
  3. Palatoglossus.
  4. Palatopharyngeus.
  5. Musculus uvulae.

Nerve Supply

(1) Motor nerve supplies all muscles except the tensor palati are supplied by the pharyngeal plexus (mandibular nerve). All the muscles of soft palate are supplied by the cranial root of accessory nerve via pharyngeal plexus with the exception of tensor palati, which is supplied by the nerve to medial pterygoid, a branch of the mandibular nerve.

(2) General sensory nerves derived from the middle and posterior palatine branches of maxillary nerve and from the glossopharyngeal nerves.

(3) Special sensory nerves carrying taste sensation by a lesser palatine nerve.

(4) Secretomotor nerves are also contained in the lesser palatine nerve.

Soft Palate 1

Fig: soft palate – Nerve and Blood Supply

Blood supply

Artery supply

  1. Greater palatine artery branch of the maxillary artery.
  2. Ascending palatine artery branch of the facial artery.
  3. Palatine branch of ascending pharyngeal artery.

Venous drainage:

By pterygoid and tonsillar plexuses of veins. The venous blood from palate is drained into pharyngeal venous plexus and pterygoid venous plexus.

Functions

(1) It isolates the mouth from the oropharynx during chewing so breathing is unaffected.

(2) It separates the oropharynx from the nasopharynx during swallowing so that food does not enter the nose.

(3) By varying the degree of closure of the pharyngeal isthmus the quality of the voice can be modified and consonants can be pronouced.

(4) During sneezing, the air is appropriately divided into the nasal and oral cavities without damaging the narrow nose.

Applied Anatomy

  1. Paralysis of the soft palate causes nasal regurgitation nasal intonation and flattening of the palatal arch.
  2. Cleft palate is a result of confusion of the right and left halves of the embryonic palate.
Related Study: