Understanding the Anatomy
The soft palate can be seen in most patients just by looking inside the mouth. It is the part of the roof of the mouth behind the hard palate. The uvula (the dangly muscle in the back of your mouth) is part of the soft palate. The soft palate is made up of many muscles, and it moves as you breathe and eat. Up and behind the soft palate is the nasopharynx, and when the soft palate moves up, it closes the connection between the oropharynx and nasopharynx to prevent food and liquids from going up into your nose.
The lining of the soft palate is squamous epithelium, just like the rest of the throat and mouth area. Under the epithelium are minor salivary glands, nerves, blood vessels and lymphatics.
The meat of the soft palate is made up of a few different muscles, including the tensor veli palatini, levator veli palatini, musculus uvulae, the palatoglossus (anterior tonsil pillar) and palatopharyngeus (posterior tonsil pillar). The tensor veli palatine (TVP) is innervated by the fifth cranial nerve, and the levator veli palatini is innervated by the ninth and tenth cranial nerves. Not only does the TVP elevate the soft palate, it also opens the Eustachian tube.