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(păl`ĭt), roof of the mouth. The front part, known as the hard palate, formed by the upper maxillary bones and the palatine bones, separates the mouth from the nasal cavity. It is composed of a bone plate covered with a layer of mucous membrane tissue. The back portion, or soft palate, consists of muscular tissue and mucous membrane forming a partial partition between the mouth and the throat. A small conelike projection, the uvula, hangs from the middle of the soft palate in humans. The soft palate and uvula move upward during swallowing or sucking, preventing food from entering the nasopharynx. In mammals other than humans, the soft palate overlaps the larynx during swallowing so as to prevent entry of foreign substances into the respiratory tract. Both the hard and soft portions of the palate are lined with mucous membrane containing numerous glands that lubricate the mouth and throat. If the sides of the bony palate fail to come together during embryonic development an opening, or cleft, remains along the midline. This condition, known as cleft palate, can be repaired surgically in early infancy. See digestive systemdigestive system,
in the animal kingdom, a group of organs functioning in digestion and assimilation of food and elimination of wastes. Virtually all animals have a digestive system. In the vertebrates (phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata) the digestive system is very complex.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the roof of the oral cavity in vertebrate animals and man.

In petromyzons, Myxine, and cartilaginous fish, the palate is formed from the base of the chondrocranium; in bony fish and terrestrial vertebrates with secondary jaws, it is formed from the bones that originate in the base of the skull and at the site of the palatoquadrate cartilage. In some fish (Dipnoi and Crossop-terygii) and terrestrial vertebrates, the anterior section of the palate has primary choanae, or internal nares. In a number of reptiles (Testudinata, crocodiles, and Pelycosauria) and in mammals, there is a secondary hard palate, formed from the membrane bones; it divides the oral cavity from the nasopharyngeal passages, which open into the pharynx through the secondary choanae. The secondary palate in reptiles and mammals prevents the entry of food into the air passages and the disruption of breathing; in crocodiles it facilitates normal respiration when food is captured in the water. The appearance of a secondary bony palate in mammals strengthened the posterior sections of the upper jaw, which was one of the conditions for the development of true molars. The hard palate in mammals gradually develops into the muscular membrane known as the soft palate, which delineates the fauces—the opening into the pharynx—superiorly and laterally.

In man the palate is a solid membrane that divides the oral and nasal cavities. It consists of the bony palate (part of the skeleton of the facial cranium), which is covered with a mucous membrane on each side of the cavities. The bony palate is formed from the palatine processes of the left and right maxillae and the horizontal membranes of the palatine bones, which are united by the sagittal and transverse sutures. The superior surface of the hard palate is almost flat—it serves as the floor of the nasal cavity; the inferior surface of the hard palate faces the oral cavity and has a concave, domelike shape. The soft palate, which consists of mucous membrane with submucosal tissue and a muscular layer with fatty tissue, is a continuation posteriorly of the hard palate. The mucous membrane on the side of the oral cavity is lined with multilayered epithelium, and on the side of the nasal cavity with ciliated epithelium. The hard and soft palates together constitute the superior wall of the oral cavity.

When there is disturbance of embryo formation, defects in the development of the palate may arise, including cleft palate.


Kudrin, I. S. Anatomiia organov polosti rta. Moscow, 1968.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


The roof of the mouth.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. the roof of the mouth, separating the oral and nasal cavities
2. Botany (in some two-lipped corollas) the projecting part of the lower lip that closes the opening of the corolla
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Roof of the mouth, tongue and lips are most common areas affected.
The other technique uses a plastic device that is fitted non-surgically to the roof of the mouth. Every week it is removed and reshaped manually by an orthodontist.
When the snake brings its tongue back into its mouth, these particles get transferred to two pits called olfactory (related to smell) organs, which are located at the roof of the mouth. These pits can tell whether the scent particles are from prey, an enemy, or other object.
The minimally invasive "Pillar" Procedure involves placing three small implants in the patient's soft palate located at the back of the roof of the mouth. Scar tissue that forms around the implant helps stiffen the palate to prevent or reduce the risk of it blocking the airway during sleep.
SNORING is caused by the vibration of parts of the nose and throat, especially the soft palate in the roof of the mouth, during sleep.
The optical fiber lit up the eyeballs through the roof of the mouth using a strong light--making the head glow red.
Doctors who specialize in the care of the brain and nervous system think this kind of headache might be related to the effect of cold on the nerves of the roof of the mouth.
The Pillar system consists of three inserts made of woven polyester yarn, each less than an inch long, which are inserted into the soft palate on the roof of the mouth to support and stiffen the palate tissue.
It's called Arachibutyrophobia - the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. Other strange phobias include Metrophobia (fear of poetry), Pogonophobia (fear of beards), Rhytiphobia (fear of getting wrinkles), Ergophobia (fear of work) and Paraskavadekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th).
It's also associated with snoring, when the muscles of the tongue, throat and roof of the mouth relax, causing the loose tissue in the mouth to sag and vibrate - and therein lies the answer.
Mouth cancer can affect the tongue, lips, cheeks, gums, floor or roof of the mouth. There are about 2,500 new cases each year in England and Wales - about 3.4 cases per 100,000 population.
Doctors think this type of headache, sometimes called "brain freeze," may be caused by the nerves in the roof of the mouth. The nerves might be reacting to the sudden cold feeling by making the brain think it should constrict, or make smaller, the blood vessels in parts of the head.