Soft palate

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


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The soft palate (or velum, or muscular palate) is the soft tissue constituting the back of the roof of the mouth. The soft palate is distinguished from the hard palate at the front of the mouth in that it does not contain bone.


It is movable, consisting of muscle fibers sheathed in mucous membrane, and is responsible for closing off the nasal passages during the act of swallowing.

The soft palate's motion during breathing is responsible for the sound of snoring. Touching the soft palate evokes a strong gag response in most people.

The soft palate also functions during speech to separate the oral cavity (mouth) from the nose, in order to produce the oral speech sounds. If this separation is incomplete, air escapes through the nose during speech and the speech is perceived as hypernasal.

Muscles of soft palate

Muscle Action Nerve
levator veli palatini deglutition vagus
tensor veli palatini deglutition mandibular nerve
palatoglossus respiration vagus
palatopharyngeus respiration vagus
musculus uvulae moves uvula vagus

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