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Chewing and Swallowing

Chewing and Swallowing

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Determine the elements of chewing and swallowing and their roles in digestion.

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Tutorial
what's covered
Welcome to this lesson on chewing and swallowing. Today, you will be learning about the processes of chewing and swallowing as they are involved in food digestion. Specifically, you will learn about:
  1. The Mouth
    1. Mechanical Digestions
    2. Chemical Digestions
  2. The Peristalsis

1. The Mouth

The actions of the mouth are the first step in digestion and involve the chewing and swallowing of food. Within the mouth, we have two forms of digestion that are occurring:

  • Mechanical digestion
  • Chemical digestion

Both are happening in your mouth at the same time to help break down food as the first step in digestion before it reaches the stomach. We're going to take a look at what the difference between these two types of digestion are and where they occur in the mouth.

File:7450-Mouth.png

1a. Mechanical Digestion
Mechanical digestion is the digestive process that physically breaks down food. Mechanical digestion occurs by physical movements of various digestive organs. In your mouth, an example of mechanical digestion would be when you chew, and your teeth physically break the food down.

term to know

Mechanical Digestion
The physical breakdown of food into smaller pieces.

1b. Chemical Digestion
Chemical digestion also occurs in your mouth (as well as the rest of the alimentary canal) and is when chemicals break down the food. Chemical digestion in your mouth is carried out by enzymes. Enzymes play a role throughout your whole digestive system in chemical digestion.

One specific enzyme in your mouth that's very important is called salivary amylase. Salivary amylase is an enzyme secreted by your salivary glands in your mouth that helps break down starches in the foods that you eat into simple sugars, such as monosaccharides and disaccharides.

terms to know
Chemical Digestion
The breakdown of food by enzymes or chemicals.
Salivary Glands
Glands in the mouth which release saliva to aid in the chemical digestion of foods while you chew.

Salivary Amylase
An enzyme found in saliva that chemically breaks down starches into simple sugars.

2. Peristalsis

As you're chewing food, your tongue will push the food against your palate, which is also known as the roof of your mouth, and mix it with saliva. Once the mouth is done mechanically and chemically digesting the food, it is then swallowed; the chewed ball of food that is swallowed is called a bolus.

As the food is swallowed, it will move down through your esophagus toward your stomach via peristalsis. Peristalsis is characterized by wave-like contraction of the muscles of the digestive tract that propels food through it. Your esophagus will contract just above the bolus and push it downward. Then, a new contraction will go above it again and push it down farther.

Peristalsis is also how your stomach mechanically breaks the bolus down further, and how the intestines push food through your digestive tract.

File:7452-Swallowing.png

terms to know
Palate
Also known as the "roof" of your mouth; the tongue presses food against the palate and mixes it with saliva to break it down before swallowing.
Bolus
The ball of chewed food that is swallowed.

Peristalsis
Wave-like muscle contractions.

summary
This lesson has been an overview of chewing and swallowing and their role in digestion. Specifically, you looked at the role of the mouth, the differences between mechanical and chemical digestion and the role of the peristalsis. Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR AMANDA SODERLIND

Attributions
  • Mouth | Author: Wikipeda | License: Creative Commons
  • Peristalsis | Author: Wikipeda | License: Creative Commons
Terms to Know
Bolus

The ball of chewed food that is swallowed.

Chemical Digestion

The breakdown of food by enzymes or chemicals.

Epiglottis

Covers the larynx during swallowing to prevent food or liquids from entering the lungs.

Mechanical Digestion

The physical breakdown of food into smaller pieces.

Palate

Also known as the "roof" of your mouth; The tongue presses food against the palate and mixes it with saliva to break it down before swallowing.

Peristalsis

Wave-like muscle contractions.

Salivary Amylase

An enzyme found in saliva that chemically breaks down starches into simple sugars.

Salivary Glands

Glands in the mouth which release saliva to aid in the chemical digestion of foods while you chew.