Hard Palate

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The hard palate (palatum durum) forms the rostral roof of the oral cavity. It merges caudally with the soft palate where a connective tissue aponeurosis replaces the bone.

Hard Palate - Copyright Nottingham 2008

Structure and Function

The hard palate is the bony shelf of the palatine processes of the incisive, maxillary and palatine bones. Failure of the palatine bones to fuse results in cleft palate. There are 6-8 fixed transverse ridges to direct food caudally. The hard palate is flat and has incisive papilla (small median swelling) behind the incisive teeth and smaller papillae ducts branching to the nasal cavity and vomeronasal organ.


Hard Palate (Mouse) - Copyright RVC 2008

The palate is formed by thick mucosa and keratinised stratified squamous epithelium.

Species Differences


Herbivores have a more heavily keratinised hard palate.


Felines have short a hard palate.


Click here for the Pathology of Cleft Palate

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