Hard palate

Hard palate

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

It 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. This partition is continued deeper into the mouth by a fleshy extension called the soft palate.


The interaction between the tongue and the hard palate is essential in the formation of certain speech sounds, notably /t/, /d/, /c/, and /ɟ/.


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).

Cleft palate has a severe impact upon the ability to nurse and speak but is now cured through reconstructive surgical procedures at an early age (where such procedures are available).

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