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The palate is the partition between the oral and nasal cavities, forming the roof of the oral cavity and the floor of the nasal cavity. It is composed of the osseous fixed hard palate comprising the anterior 2/3rds of the palate and a mobile soft palate devoid of bone and with multiple functions forming the posterior 1/3rd of the palate.
On its inferior (oral) surface it is lined by oral mucosa (which contains innumerable palatine glands) and on its superior (nasal) surface it is lined by respiratory mucosa. In the midline the palatine raphe forms a white streak.
Branches of several vessels contribute to a rich blood supply of the palate:
- greater palatine artery (from the maxillary artery) supplies most of the palate, supplying the palate anterior to the greater palatine foramina
- lesser palatine artery (also from the maxillary artery) supplies the palate posterior to the greater palatine foramina
- ascending palatine artery (from the facial artery) provides some supply to the posterior palate
- palatine branches of the ascending pharyngeal artery (from the ECA) also contributes to the posterior palate
Similarly named veins of the palate drain to the pterygoid venous plexus.
- greater palatine nerve supplies most of the palate, supplying the palate anterior to the greater palatine foramina
- nasopalatine nerve supplies the palate anterior to the incisive foramen
- lesser palatine nerve supplies the palate posterior to the greater palatine foramina
Special sensory taste fibers from the taste buds on the oral surface of the soft palate are supplied by fibers of the greater petrosal nerve.
Motor innervation of the muscles of the soft palate is provided by the pharyngeal plexus of nerves apart from tensor veli palatini which is innervated by the nerve to medial pterygoid (a branch of the mandibular division of the trigeminal nerve).
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