What is the soft palate?

The soft palate ( lat. Velum palatinum ) is a mobile and soft continuation of the hard palate. This sequel presents itself as a soft tissue fold and consists of connective tissue, muscles and mucous membrane. It is often referred to as a soft palate because of its composition.

The soft palate can be directed obliquely or perpendicular to the tongue base and delimits the oral cavity against the pharynx. Thus, it serves the demarcation between the air and the food. The soft palate continues to perform articulation tasks to facilitate both oral and nasal sounds.


The soft palate consists of connective tissue, various muscles that radiate into the soft palate, and mucous membrane.

On the side of the soft palate facing the oral cavity, there are so-called multi-layered squamous epithelium as the upper layer. On the side facing the pharynx, on the other hand, there is the respiratory tract epithelium typical for the respiratory tract.

The so-called palate aponeurosis, a fibrous connective tissue plate, forms the basis of the soft palate.

Vessels and nerves open here, supplying the soft palate by connecting it to the bloodstream and the nervous system.

At the edge of the soft palate double folds form on both sides, which are called so-called palatal arches. In the middle, the so-called Gaumenzäpchen, the uvula, forms.

At this point is the so-called Ah line. This is a borderline between hard and soft palate that appears when the A vocal is articulated. This line is used in dental prosthetics as the maximum expansion limit for full dentures. When overdimensioning a prosthesis, the soft palate would pry it further back and it would not have any support.

palate muscles

The palate musculature, consisting of different muscles, radiates into the palate aponeurosis. The muscles of the palate musculature include:

  • Musculus tenseor veli palatini
  • Musculus levator veli palatini
  • Muscle uvulae
  • Palatoglossus
  • Muscular pharyngoglossus

The palatoglossal muscle is also assigned to the external tongue muscles, while the pharyngoglossus muscle also belongs to the pharyngeal musculature.

All muscles of the soft palate move the soft palate and thus support the process of swallowing. Furthermore, the palate musculature ensures delimitation of the oral cavity from the nasopharynx.


The main task of the soft soft palate is the delineation of the oral cavity to the pharynx and the associated separation of air and food. During the act of swallowing, the soft palate is pressed by the pharyngeal constrictor muscle into a bulge of the pharyngeal wall of the pharynx. This gives a kind of closure during swallowing, which ensures that no food or liquids get into the airway.

Musculi tensor veli palatini and levator veli palatini always provide pressure equalization when swallowing or yawning.

In addition to the task of soft palate during swallowing, it also plays an important role in articulation. When talking, the soft palate rises and is also pressed against the bead of the back wall of the pharynx. In this way, the nasal cavity is delimited from the mouth and throat area.

The stream of air flowing from the lungs can flow unhindered through the throat and mouth. This results in oral sounds. If the oral cavity is closed, nasal sounds can occur, as the phonation current can now flow away through the nose. Nasal vowels are created by the Velum lowering the soft palate so that the airflow from the lungs can escape through the mouth and nostrils at the same time.

What is a soft palate?

A soft palate is referred to in the jargon of phonetics as Velar or velar sound. It is a sound produced on the soft palate, lat. Velum palatinum .

One differentiates an articulation with a complete closure of the back of the tongue with the soft palate from an articulation, in which the back of the tongue only approaches the soft palate very strongly. In the field of phonetics, the sounds are thus characterized by the position of the back of the tongue during articulation. The soft palate, that is the velum, can be lowered and air also flows through the nasal cavity or be lifted.

In the latter case, the air flows exclusively through the oral cavity. The soft palate is thus an articulation site. This means that it represents a movement target for the language organs which are movable relative to the soft palate, such as, for example, the tongue. A Velar, that is, a soft palate, is formed, for example, in -ng Laut in German.

Diseases affecting the soft palate


Lets the tension of the muscles of the upper respiratory tract asleep, so relaxes the muscles and the surrounding tissue. As a result, there is a constriction of the airways and a turbulence of the air. The sagging soft palate and the uvula begin to vibrate through the airflow. The characteristic snoring noises arise.

Both anatomical conditions, such as the position of the tongue to the back of the pharynx or a very large Halszäpfchen and age-related changes may be the cause of snoring.

There are two different types of snoring. One speaks of a so-called primary or simple snoring, provided that the respiratory rhythm or the own sleep quality are not impaired. Primary snoring is not dangerous to the snorer himself.

If the snoring is associated with respiratory failure, it is called obstructive or apnoeic snoring. The body responds to the brief loss of oxygen with a reflex-like activation of the respiratory muscles and an increased activity of the heart. This type of snoring as a possible consequence of a disease or alteration of the soft palate can have serious health consequences.

In any case, sufferers should consult a doctor.

Swelling on the soft palate

Swelling on the soft palate can have various causes. In most cases, the swelling has spread and affects next to the soft palate more areas in the mouth or throat. These include:

  • Burns from hot food or drinks
  • bacterial or viral infections
  • allergic reaction

Allergic reactions do not just show up on the skin. Also, the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat area are very sensitive to allergies and can swell. Inflammation caused by bacterial or viral infections may also cause swelling of the soft palate. In the case of infection, palate swelling and swelling in surrounding areas are often accompanied by dysphagia, fever, and other symptoms of an infection.

The treatment of the swollen soft palate always depends on the cause. These include, for example, cooling for burns, antibiotics for infections or home remedies for the cause.

Inflammation on the soft palate

Inflammation of the soft palate is often accompanied by inflammation and swelling of the suppository. It is often inflammation of the throat, especially the tonsils or the oral mucosa, which spread to the soft palate. Furthermore, the inflammation of the soft palate may also be based on tonsillitis.

Inflammations in the soft palate, which are usually associated with redness, swelling, warming and pain in the affected area, are usually treated by the attending physician with antibiotics. The typical symptoms of inflammation usually occur fever and dysphagia.

In case of inflammation, it is essential to see a doctor to fight the cause of the inflammation. Antibiotics are essential in most cases. An application of home remedies is in the case of inflammation for supportive therapy. However, they do not replace the need for an antibiotic.

Soft palate paralysis / palate paralysis

A soft palate paresis in medical terminology refers to a paralysis of the soft palate. A distinction is made between a unilateral, that is unilateral, and a bilateral paresis. A soft palate paralysis can be caused by an injury to the vagus nerve, the 10th cranial nerve . Furthermore, the soft palate paralysis may also be a late complication of diphtheria (= an infectious disease caused by a particular pathogen ).

In the symptomatology, unilateral soft palate paresis expresses itself by a so-called backdrop phenomenon. This describes the deviation of the back wall of the pharynx to the healthy side, because the pharyngeal musculature (= pharyngeal musculature ) has lost its functionality.

Bilateral paresis of the soft palate usually results in disorders of the swallowing process ( dysphagia ) or loss of voice. The reason for this lies in the lack of demarcation of the oral cavity in relation to the nasopharyngeal space due to the lack of function of the musculature during speech and swallowing.

OP on the soft palate / soft palate lift

Operation on the soft palate is a procedure that is used in patients who may experience respiratory failure as a result of narrowing the airways with a large suppository or a loose soft palate.

During surgery, in most cases the suppository is shortened and the soft palate tightened to prevent further narrowing of the airways. There are various methods for this, with the help of which the soft palate can be tightened.

The respiratory murmur caused by snoring or airway narrowing can lead to people not getting enough oxygen while sleeping. This means a heavy burden on the cardiovascular system. The operation on the soft palate is done under general anesthesia. In order to feel better prepared, read our topic: General Anesthesia - Process, Risks and Side Effects

As with any surgery, these risks also affect the patient. It can lead to bleeding, tooth damage, nerve injury and as a result taste disorders, infections of the wound or a foreign body sensation in the throat.

Furthermore, the operation does not guarantee complete disappearance of snoring. Although surgery is often a successful snore-busting option, it may be re-established after surgery. In any case, one should always get a second opinion on an operation on the soft palate.

Pain after surgery

Pain after surgery on the soft palate is not atypical and is one of the usual healing pains. The operation on the soft palate is an invasive procedure. The skin first has to regenerate and strengthen. The pain is usually associated with swelling in the surgical area. The wound area is also very sensitive, which puts the gentle treatment first.

To avoid pain, analgesics prescribed by the doctor may be taken, such as ibuprofen. Here one must pay particular attention to his diet. In order for the wound to heal faster and better, it must not be damaged and opened up by hard food such as nuts. In addition, should be dispensed with alcohol and spicy foods.

Furthermore, you should try less physically as usual and for a certain amount of time to give up the heat. Especially the last factor can cause inflammation.

What do you need a training of the soft palate?

The exercises for training the soft palate gel are versatile. By the targeted training of the soft palate the palate and the pharyngeal muscles can be strengthened and tightened.

This can especially benefit from counteracting snoring, because strengthening the palate muscles can counteract the cause of snoring.

Furthermore, soft palate exercises are also used in the field of professional singing or speech therapy.

What does a soft palate workout look like?

There are many different exercises with which the soft palate can be trained. As the simplest method to train the throat and palate muscles, singing is recommended. In addition, singing can train the respiratory muscles. Furthermore, there are tongue and mouth exercises through which the ( also age-related ) relaxation of the respiratory muscles can be counteracted.

In one exercise, the tip of the tongue should be pressed to the palate and moved as far back as possible towards the pharynx ( 20x ). Similarly, the entire tongue should be sucked to the palate and then pressed against it ( 20x ).

In another exercise, push the back of the tongue down while the tip of the tongue touches the inside of the lower incisors ( 20x ).

A training of the jaw and facial muscles can be of supportive advantage to strengthen the palate muscles. There are many more exercises that can be used in soft palate training. To achieve the desired effectiveness, the exercises should preferably be performed daily for the same time.

What is a soft palate nystagmus?

A soft palate nystagmus is a rhythmic one- or two-sided contraction of the palate muscles with concomitant twitching of the suppository. The fast flicker movements are referred to as myorrhythmia . Due to the rhythmic opening of the connecting tube from mouth to ear, a clicking sound is produced in the ear, which both the affected person and the doctor with the stethoscope can hear.

The soft palate nystagmus may be based on various causes. These can be subdivided into mechanical causes, causes in the central nervous system ( CNS ), such as an infarct located there, psychogenic causes or a deliberate causation. However, twitching is often based on a disease process of the brain.

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