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The soft palate (also known as the velum, palatal velum, or muscular palate) is, in
mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...
s, the soft
tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North America * ''Triphosa dubitata'', a species of geometer mot ...
constituting the back of the roof of the
mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is ...

mouth
. The soft palate is part of the
palate The palate () is the roof of the mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ...

palate
of the mouth; the other part is the
hard palate The hard palate is a thin horizontal bony plate made up of two bones of the facial skeleton The facial skeleton comprises the ''facial bones'' that may attach to build a portion of the skull The skull is a bone A bone is a Stiffness, ri ...
. The soft palate is distinguished from the hard palate at the front of the mouth in that it does not contain
bone A bone is a rigid tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North America * ''Triphosa dubit ...

bone
.


Structure


Muscles

The five muscles of the soft palate play important roles in swallowing and breathing. The muscles are: #
Tensor veli palatini The tensor veli palatini muscle (tensor palati or tensor muscle of the velum palatinum) is a broad, thin, ribbon-like muscle in the head that tenses the soft palate. Structure The tensor veli palatini is found anterior-lateral to the levator veli ...
, which is involved in
swallowing Swallowing, sometimes called deglutition in scientific contexts, is the process in the human or animal body that allows for a substance to pass from the mouth, to the pharynx, and into the esophagus, while shutting the epiglottis. Swallowing is ...
#
Palatoglossus The palatoglossus, glossopalatinus, or palatoglossal muscle is a small fleshy fasciculus, narrower in the middle than at either end, forming, with the mucous membrane covering its surface, the glossopalatine arch. Structure Palatoglossus arises fr ...
, involved in
swallowing Swallowing, sometimes called deglutition in scientific contexts, is the process in the human or animal body that allows for a substance to pass from the mouth, to the pharynx, and into the esophagus, while shutting the epiglottis. Swallowing is ...
#
Palatopharyngeus The palatopharyngeus (palatopharyngeal or pharyngopalatinus) muscle is a small muscle Muscle is a soft tissue found in most animals. Muscle cells contain protein Proteins are large biomolecules or macromolecules that are comprised of one ...
, involved in
breathing File:X-ray video of a female American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) while breathing - pone.0004497.s009.ogv, upright=1.4, X-ray video of a female American alligator while breathing. Breathing (or ventilation) is the process of moving a ...

breathing
#
Levator veli palatini The levator veli palatini () is the elevator muscle Muscle is a soft tissue found in most animals. Muscle cells contain protein Proteins are large biomolecules or macromolecules that are comprised of one or more long chains of amino aci ...
, involved in
swallowing Swallowing, sometimes called deglutition in scientific contexts, is the process in the human or animal body that allows for a substance to pass from the mouth, to the pharynx, and into the esophagus, while shutting the epiglottis. Swallowing is ...
#
Musculus uvulae The palatine uvula, usually referred to as simply the uvula, is a conic projection from the back edge of the middle of the soft palate, composed of connective tissue containing a number of alveolar gland, racemose glands, and some muscular fibers. ...
, which moves the
uvula The palatine uvula, usually referred to as simply the uvula, is a conic projection from the back edge of the middle of the soft palate The soft palate (also known as the velum, palatal velum, or muscular palate) is, in mammal Mammals (from ...
These muscles are innervated by the pharyngeal plexus via the
vagus nerve The vagus nerve, historically cited as the pneumogastric nerve, is the tenth cranial nerve Cranial nerves are the nerve A nerve is an enclosed, cable-like bundle of nerve fibers called axon An axon (from Greek ἄξων ''áxōn'', axis ...
, with the exception of the
tensor veli palatini The tensor veli palatini muscle (tensor palati or tensor muscle of the velum palatinum) is a broad, thin, ribbon-like muscle in the head that tenses the soft palate. Structure The tensor veli palatini is found anterior-lateral to the levator veli ...
. The tensor veli palatini is innervated by the
mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve The mandibular nerve (V3) is the largest of the three divisions of the trigeminal nerve The trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve, or simply CN V) is a nerve responsible for sensation in the face and motor functions such as biting and chewin ...
(V3).


Function

The soft palate is moveable, consisting of
muscle Skeletal muscles (commonly referred to as muscles) are organs An organ is a group of tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tissues can be broadly cat ...

muscle
fibers sheathed in
mucous membrane A mucous membrane or mucosa is a biological membrane, membrane that lines various cavities in the body and covers the surface of internal organs. It consists of one or more layers of Epithelium, epithelial cells overlying a layer of loose connecti ...
. It is responsible for closing off the
nasal passages
nasal passages
during the act of
swallowing Swallowing, sometimes called deglutition in scientific contexts, is the process in the human or animal body that allows for a substance to pass from the mouth, to the pharynx, and into the esophagus, while shutting the epiglottis. Swallowing is ...
, and also for closing off the airway. During sneezing, it protects the nasal passage by diverting a portion of the excreted substance to the mouth. In
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...

human
s, the
uvula The palatine uvula, usually referred to as simply the uvula, is a conic projection from the back edge of the middle of the soft palate The soft palate (also known as the velum, palatal velum, or muscular palate) is, in mammal Mammals (from ...
hangs from the end of the soft palate. Touching the uvula or the end of the soft palate evokes a strong
gag reflexThe pharyngeal reflex or gag reflex is a reflex contraction of the back of the throat whereas laryngeal spasm is a reflex contraction of the vocal cords, evoked by touching the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue, the area around the tonsils, t ...
in most people.


Speech

A speech sound made with the middle part of the
tongue The tongue is a muscular MUSCULAR (DS-200B), located in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Brita ...

tongue
(dorsum) touching the soft palate is known as a
velar consonant Velars are consonant In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. Examples are , pronounced with the lips; , pronounced with the front of the tongue; , pronoun ...
. It is possible for the soft palate to retract and elevate during speech to separate the oral cavity (mouth) from the nasal cavity in order to produce the oral speech sounds. If this separation is incomplete, air escapes through the nose, causing speech to be perceived as nasal.


Modelling

Within the microstructure of the soft palate lie a variety of variably-oriented fibers that create a nonuniform surface with a nonuniform density distribution. The tissue has been characterized as viscoelastic, nonlinear, and anisotropic in the direction of the fibers. Young modulus values range from 585 Pa at the posterior free edge of the soft palate to 1409 Pa where the soft palate attaches to the maxilla. These properties are useful when quantifying the effects of corrective orthopedic devices such as the Hotz Plate on cleft lip. Quantitative analyses have been done on bilateral and unilateral cleft palate to better understand geometric differences in cleft palate throughout the course of its development and correction. Despite the difficulty in finding common, comparable landmarks between normal soft palates and cleft palates, analytical methods have been devised to assess differences in degree of curvature of the alveolar crest, two-dimensional and three-dimensional surface area, and slope of the alveolar crest. Finite element analysis has demonstrated effective modeling of soft-palate extension and movement. It has also been an effective tool for evaluating the craniofacial effects of corrective orthopedic devices and cleft lip.


Clinical significance


Disease

Pathology of the soft palate includes
mucosa A mucous membrane or mucosa is a membrane Image:Schematic size.jpg, up150px, Schematic of size-based membrane exclusion A membrane is a selective barrier; it allows some things to pass through but stops others. Such things may be molecules, ions ...

mucosa
l lesions such as pemphigus vulgaris dsg - 3,
herpangina Herpangina, also called mouth blister A blister is a small pocket of body fluid ( lymph, serum, plasma, blood, or pus) within the upper layers of the skin, usually caused by forceful rubbing ( friction), burning, freezing, chemical exposure ...

herpangina
and
migratory stomatitis Geographic tongue, also known by several other terms, is a condition of the mucous membrane A mucous membrane or mucosa is a membrane that lines various cavities in the body and covers the surface of internal organs. It consists of one or more l ...
, and
muscular MUSCULAR (DS-200B), located in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the Uni ...

muscular
conditions such as the
congenital A birth defect, also known as a congenital disorder, is a condition present at birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring, also referred to in technical contexts as parturition. In mammals, the process is initiate ...
cleft palate A cleft lip contains an opening in the upper lip Lips are a visible body part at the mouth of many animals, including humans. Lips are soft, movable, and serve as the opening for food intake and in the articulation of sound and speech. Hu ...

cleft palate
and cleft uvula.
Petechiae A petechia (pl. petechiae) is a small (1–2 mm) red or purple spot on the skin or conjunctiva The conjunctiva is a tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid An eyelid is a thin fold of skin that covers and protects an eye. The leva ...
on the soft palate are mainly associated with
streptococcal pharyngitis Streptococcal pharyngitis, also known as strep throat, is an infection of the back of the throat including the tonsils caused by '' group A streptococcus'' (GAS). Common symptoms include fever Fever, also referred to as pyrexia, is defined ...

streptococcal pharyngitis
, and as such it is an uncommon but highly
specific
specific
finding. 10 to 30 percent of palatal petechiae cases are estimated to be caused by suction, which can be habitual or secondary to
fellatio Fellatio (also known as fellation, and in slang as blowjob, BJ, giving head, or sucking off) is an oral sex Oral sex, sometimes referred to as oral intercourse, is sexual activity Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or huma ...

fellatio
.Page 134
in:


Additional images

File:Uvula without tonsils.jpg, Soft palate without tonsils (after
tonsillectomy Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure in which both palatine tonsils are fully removed from the back of the throat. The procedure is mainly performed for recurrent throat infections and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). For those with frequent th ...
) File:Gray994.png, Sagittal section of nose mouth, pharynx, and larynx. File:Gray1014.png, The mouth cavity. The cheeks have been slit transversely and the tongue pulled forward. Gray855.png, Lateral wall of nasal cavity. (Soft palate visible in lower right)


See also

*
Palatine tonsil Palatine tonsils, commonly called the tonsils and occasionally called the faucial tonsils, are tonsils located on the left and right sides at the back of the throat, which can often be seen as flesh-colored, pinkish lumps. Tonsils only present as ...


References


External links


Image at WebMD
* - "Diagram of the regions of the oral cavity." {{Authority control Palate
palate The palate () is the roof of the mouth In animal anatomy Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the structure of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ...
Speech organs he:חך#החך הרך ja:口蓋#軟口蓋