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Navigating clinical oral anatomy imperative to successful oral care

DVM InFocus

Photo 13
Note: Caudal, rostral, lateral, medial, dorsal and ventral are used to describe direction when not associated with the arcades. For example, the "inflammation of caudal buccal mucosa" or a lesion described as "rostral to the lingual frenulum" are proper uses of these terms.

Palatal bone and soft tissue, known collectively as the palate, comprise the majority of the maxillary portion of the oral cavity separating it from the nasal cavity and nasopharynx. The hard palate is comprised of the maxillary, incisive and palatine bones.

The major palatine arteries and the major branch of the maxillary division of the trigeminal nerve supply and innervate the oral portion of the palate.

Photo 14
These structures enter the oral cavity though the major palatine foramina generally present at the level of the central portion of maxillary fourth premolar close to halfway to the palatal midline (Photo 14, p. 7). The major palatine arteries are of great importance when performing palatal surgery from the standpoint of vascular preservation and ligation. Palatine nerve blocks are paramount to intraoperative safety and post-operative patient comfort. The minor palatine foramina lies directly caudal to the major foramina and through them pass the nerve and blood supply to the soft palate.

Photo 15
The paired incisive foramina are present in the rostral hard palate adjacent to the canine teeth. The branches of the major palatine nerve and artery enters the nasal cavity through the incisive foramina.

Palatal mucosa is keratinized and contains numerous rugae or transverse ridges. The line in the mucosa at the midline is called the median raphe (Photo 15). The raised region at the rostral extent of the mucosa at the midline, caudal to the incisors is the incisive papilla. Paired incisive ducts exist lateral to the papilla and communicate directly with the vomeronasal organ. Inflammation of the mucosa of these structures can become a clinical concern when food and debris accumulate abnormally.

Photo 16
The soft palate is the caudal extension of the hard palatal mucosa, contains no rugae and should terminate at the tip of the epiglottis close to the level of the middle of the tonsils. Extension of the soft palate beyond the tip of the epiglottis is an important contributor to respiratory compromise, especially in brachycephalic dogs.

The fauces compose the lateral walls of the oropharynx (Photo 16). Commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as the fauces, the caudal buccal mucosa is the tissue lateral to the soft palate. The tissue lateral to the fauces is correctly referred to as the palatoglossal fold.


Source: DVM InFocus,
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