Soft Palate

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Introduction

The soft palate (velum palatine) is located caudally to the hard palate and is composed of muscle. It is involved in tasting food and in deglutition.

Soft Palate - Copyright University of Nottingham 2008

Structure and Function

The soft palate is made of striated palatine muscle and has very folded mucosa. It contacts the epiglottis caudally.

Soft Palate Cross-section - Copyright RVC

Musculature and Innervation

The soft palate transmits sensation and taste via the glossopharyngeal (CN IX) nerve.

Palatine muscle

The origin of the palatine muscle is the hard palate transeverse ridges and the insertion site is the soft palate. The muscle shortens the palate and recieves major innervation from the vagus nerve (CN X) and minor innervation from the glossopgaryngeal nerve (CN IX).

Tensor velli palatini muscle

The origin of the tensor velli palatini muscle is near the tympanic bulla on the temporal bone. The insertion site is the lateral aponeurosis. It tenses the soft palate.

Soft palate - Copyright C.Clarkson and T.F.Fletcher University of Minnesota

Levator velli palatini muscle

The origin of the levator velli palatini muscle is near the tympanic bulla on the temporal bone. The insertion site is the lateral aponeurosis. It raises the soft palate and recieves major innervation from the vagus nerve (CN X) and minor from the glossopgaryngeal nerve (CN IX).

Palatopharyngeus muscle

The palatopharyngeus muscle closes the palatopharyngeal arch, and therefore lifts the soft palate. It recieves major innervation from the vagus nerve (CN X) and minor innervation from the glossopgaryngeal nerve (CN IX).

Histology

Soft Palate (Mouse) - Copyright RVC 2008

The soft palate contains respiratory mucosa - ciliated pseudostratified columnar epithelium on the aboral surface. There is stratified squamous epithelium on the oral surface. The soft palate also contains palatine salivary glands.

Species Differences

Porcine

The soft palate does not contact the epiglottis as the porcine soft palate is raised higher in the oral cavity than in other species.

Equine

The tight laryngeal cuff around the laryngeal entrance, and therefore the soft palate cannot be raised for long periods of time and thus horses are nasal breathers. Laryngeal cuffing prevents vomiting.

Canine

As brachiocephalic breeds have a shortened skull length, the soft palate can often obstruct air flow into the larynx causing breathing difficulties.

Avian

Birds lack a soft palate.


Soft Palate Learning Resources
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Soft Palate Anatomy & Physiology Flashcards
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Histology of the oral cavity - part 1 features the soft palate



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