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The soft palate is the part of the roof of your mouth that is in the very back. The roof of your mouth starts out hard (the hard palate) and at about 2/3 of the way back in your mouth becomes softer and more pliable. There are muscle groups that control the movement of the palate. Its main function is to drop open when you need to breathe through your nose as when you are chewing or to close when you breathe through your mouth or when the food is at the point of the actual swallow.

Think about when you have a cold and your nose is “stuffed up.” How do you breathe? Through your mouth. What is like to eat and chew when you are like this? Difficult because you have to breathe through your mouth since you can’t through your nose and it makes it hard to “chew with your mouth closed.”

What happens if the soft palate does not close properly? Loss of nutrients and food out of the nose. This is most prevalent in children with a cleft palate. In speech this may also cause a “nasal” quality to the sound of a person’s speech.