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There are six pairs of muscles which make up the pharynx. These muscles can be divided into two groups.
One group of pharyngeal muscles comprises three pairs of constrictor muscles that run across the pharynx: the superior, middle and inferior constrictors. These constrict the pharynx, squeezing food downward into the oesophagus.
The other group comprises be three pairs of muscles running from above down into the pharynx: the salpingo-pharyngeus, stylopharyngeus and palatopharyngeus. These raise the pharynx during swallowing, elevating the larynx and protecting the airway.
The constrictor muscles overlap each other from below upwards (like three stacked plastic cups inside each other). Important structures enter the pharynx in the intervals between these muscles. The constrictor muscle fibres sweep backwards into a longitudinally running fibrous band in the midline, the phaiyngeal raphe, which is attached to the base of the skull.
Most of the pharynx derives its sensory nerve supply from the glossopharyngeal (ninth cranial) nerve. Stimulation of the oropharynx at the back of the throat triggers the swallowing and gagging reflexes. The pharynx muscles are supplied chiefly by the 11th cranial (accessory) nerve.
Read more: Larynx