Palate forms the roof of mouth and flour of nasal cavity and consists of an anterior hard palate and a posterior soft palate.
- Hard palate
- It forms anterior four-fifth of palate. It is a partition between nasal and oral cavities. It is formed by palatine processes of maxillae (anterior 2/3) and horizontal plates of palatine bones (posterior 2/3). Inferior surface is covered by mucosa and receives sensory innervation from greater palatine and nasopalatine nerves and blood supply from greater palatine vessels.
- Soft palate
- Soft palate is a mobile, fibromuscular curtain attached to posterior border of hard palate and forms posterior one fifth of palate. It separates oropharynx from nasopharynx. Uvula is a median conical projection from the posterior free border of soft palate.
- Soft palate encloses palatine aponeurosis, palatine muscles, vessels, nerves, lymphoid tissue and mucous glands. Anterior oral surface is covered by nonkeratinising stratified squamous epithelium and posterior nasopharyngeal surface is covered by respiratory epithelium.
Nerve supply of soft palate
Nerve supply of soft palate is as follows.
- Motor supply
- All muscles of soft palate except the tensor veli palatini are supplied by the cranial part of accessory nerve through pharyngeal plexus. The fibers of this plexus are derived from cranial part of accessory nerve through the vagus. Tensor veli palatini is supplied by mandibular nerve, a branch of trigeminal nerve.
- Sensory (General)
- Lesser palatine nerves (middle and posterior), branches of maxillary nerve through pterygopalatine ganglion.
- Glossopharyngeal nerve.
- Sensory (Special)
- Taste (gustatory) sensations from the oral surface of soft palate are conveyed by lesser palatine nerve. The fibers travel through the greater petrosal nerve to geniculate ganglion of facial nerve and then to nucleus of tractus solitarius.
- Contained in lesser palatine nerve, derived from the superior salivary nucleus and travel through the greaterpetrosal nerve.
Blood supply of soft palate
Arterial supply of soft palate is as follows:
- Greater palatine branch of descending palatine artery, which in turn is a branch of maxillary artery.
- Ascending palatine branch of facialartery.
- Palatine branch of ascending pharyngeal artery.
- Lesser palatine artery a branch of descending palatine artery, which is a branch of maxillary artery.