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The bone and soft tissue that forms the roof of the mouth and separates the mouth from the nasal cavity. The development of the palate begins at about 5 to 6 weeks of intrauterine life, when the fronto-nasal process forms the medial and lateral nasal processes, the primary nasal septum, and the primary palate (the primary palate contains the maxillary incisor teeth). A palatal shelf develops laterally behind the primary nasal septum from the two maxillary processes. The secondary nasal septum grows from the roof of the primitive oral cavity, dividing the nasal cavity into two chambers. The palatal shelves contact each other to form the secondary palate separating the oral and nasal cavities. The secondary palate anteriorly becomes the hard palate which includes the palatal extensions of the maxillary and palatine bones covered by mucous membrane and posteriorly the soft palate, a flexible fold of mucous membrane that tapers at the back of the mouth to form a fleshy flap of tissue, the uvula. Failure of the maxillary and nasal processes to fuse can result in a cleft lip or palate.

Subjects: Dentistry.

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