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The Normal Swallow

In normal swallowing, the food or liquid (referred to as the bolus) is prepared in the mouth for swallowing. With solid foods, this includes the process of chewing.  Once the bolus is prepared, it is sent back to the throat by the muscles of the tongue.

Once the bolus reaches the upper throat, the swallow response is triggered. In order to send the bolus down to the esophagus (food pipe), a number of events must occur. The upper back wall of the throat bulges forward to meet with the rising soft palate to prevent foods and liquids from going up the nose. The back of the tongue contracts back to plunge the bolus towards the esophagus.  The voice box moves up and forward and the epiglottis (a cartilage in the voice box) tilts down to prevent food and liquid from going into the airway.

As the bolus travels further down the throat, the sphincter at the top of the esophagus relaxes to allow the bolus to enter the esophagus.

 

Once the bolus clears into the esophagus, the sphincter at the top of the esophagus closes and esophageal propulsion carries the bolus to the stomach.

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(650) 498 - 6000

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(650) 498 - 6000