A short, broad, muscular tube that lies behind the tongue and soft palate, the pharynx is shared by the respiratory and digestive tracts. Its superior portion, the respiratory pharynx, lies above the soft palate; it communicates with the nasal cavity and is lined by respiratory epithelium. The inferior portion, the oral pharynx (oropharynx), lies below the level of the soft palate.
It communicates with the oral cavity and is lined by nonkeratinized stratified squamous epithelium. The pharynx also communicates with both the esophagus and the larynx. During swallowing, the back of the tongue helps close the epiglottis to direct food away from the larynx and into the esophagus.


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