Hard palate

Hard palate
Mouth (oral cavity)
Upper respiratory system, with hard palate labeled at right.
Artery greater palatine artery
Nerve greater palatine nerve, nasopalatine nerve
Latin palatum durum
MeSH D021362
TA A05.1.01.103
FMA 55023
Anatomical terminology

The hard palate is a thin horizontal bony plate of the skull, located in the roof of the mouth. It is formed by the palatine process of the maxilla and horizontal plate of palatine bone, and spans the arch formed by the upper teeth.


The hard palate is formed by the palatine process of the maxilla and horizontal plate of palatine bone. It forms a partition between the nasal passages and the mouth. On the anterior portion of the roof of the hard palate are the plicae, irregular ridges in the mucous membrane that help facilitate the movement of food backwards towards the larynx. This partition is continued deeper into the mouth by a fleshy extension called the soft palate.


The hard palate is important for feeding and speech. Mammals with a defective hard palate may die shortly after birth due to inability to suckle (see Cleft palate below). It is also involved in mastication in many species. The interaction between the tongue and the hard palate is essential in the formation of certain speech sounds, notably palatal consonants such as /j/ and /ɟ/.

Clinical significance

Cleft palate

In the birth defect called cleft palate, the left and right portions of this plate are not joined, forming a gap between the mouth and nasal passage (a related defect affecting the face is cleft lip).

While cleft palate has a severe impact upon the ability to nurse and speak, it is now successfully treated through reconstructive surgical procedures at an early age, where such procedures are available.

Palatal abscesses

The proximity of the dento-alveolar process explains the forming of palatal abscesses and the palatal mucosa and submucosa with its numerous glands and the squamous keratinized epithelium is in correlation with the rich tumoral pathology.[1]

Hard palate pigmentation

Long-term use of chloroquine diphosphateas drug, which is prescribed in Malaria prophylaxis, and Rhumatoid arthritis was found to cause bluish - grey pigmentation in the hard palate.[2][3]

See also


  1. Roman⁠, Alexandru Gabriel; Mițariu⁠, Mihaela Cernușcă; Mițariu⁠, Mihai (June 2012). "Palatul dur — La granița dintre patologia tumorală și cea infecțioasă" [Palate – the border between tumor pathology and the infectious]. Revista de chirurgie oro-maxilo-facială și implantologie (in Romanian). 3 (2): 14–7.
  2. Manger, Karin; von Streitberg, Ulrich; Seitz, Gerhard; Kleyer, Arnd; Manger, Bernhard (2017-11-28). "Hard Palate Hyperpigmentation-a Rare Side Effect of Antimalarials". Arthritis & Rheumatology. 70 (1): 152–152. doi:10.1002/art.40327. ISSN 2326-5191.
  3. de Andrade, Bruno-Augusto-Benevenuto; Padron-Alvarado, Nelson-Alejandro; Muñoz-Campos, Edgar-Manuel; Morais, Thayná-Melo-de Lima; Martinez-Pedraza, Ricardo (2017-12-01). "Hyperpigmentation of hard palate induced by chloroquine therapy". Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry. 9 (12): e1487–e1491. doi:10.4317/jced.54387. ISSN 1989-5488. PMC 5794129. PMID 29410767.
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