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Chewing and swallowing
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This is where food gets moistened by saliva, and is broken down into smaller bits that are easy to swallow and pass through the esophagus.
It’s also the step that helps smear the food out over the tongue so that it can be fully tasted.
The journey of food starts in the oral cavity, which is the first part of the digestive tract.
The oral cavity is like an empty room, there’s the roof, which is formed by the hard and soft palate, the floor, which is formed by the tongue and the mylohyoid muscles, the lateral walls formed by the inside of the cheeks, and there’s the front which gets sealed off by the lips and teeth.
A layer of epithelial cells line the inside of the mouth and form the first line of defense against pathogens.
The surface of the epithelial cells is kept moist by mucus secreted by salivary glands.
These are the parotid glands, found in front of each ear, the submandibular or submaxillary glands, found under the mandible and the sublingual glands that sit beneath the tongue, under the floor of the mouth.
Swallowing is a complex process that involves many muscles. The tongue voluntarily pushes food into the back of the throat, called the pharynx. A flap of tissue called the epiglottis blocks the airway so that food doesn't go up the nose. Muscles in the pharynx involuntarily push food down into the esophagus, which carries food to the stomach.
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