Mechanical Digestion in the Mouth

Digestive system performs many important biological functions and is a complex process. Mechanical digestion is something that starts in the mouth and is the first step in the process of digestion which starts once you ingest the food. It is a less complex method which occurs in the mouth.

Mechanical Digestion in Mouth

The steps involved in mechanical digestion are:

  • Mechanical digestion is a simple process of breaking down of solid food materials into tiny pieces inside the mouth.
  • This is done to make it ready for further processing with enzymes and chemicals.
  • The mechanical digestion starts in the mouth and help is taken from tongue, saliva and teeth.
  • When the food is ingested into the mouth, the brain sends signal to the salivary glands to secrete saliva to soften the food.
  • The saliva has a special substance called ptyalin, which is an enzyme that helps in the breakdown of the food.
  • The teeth also speed up this process by chewing the food and breaking it into smaller food particles.
  • The tongue also plays a major role by shifting the food material all around the mouth by helping the teeth to grind the food into smaller particles.
  • The swallowing is another important part in mechanical digestion as the tongue presses against the roof of the mouth and the chewed food is pushed towards the back part of the mouth.
  • The soft palate located over the roof of the mouth guides in the passage of food by not allowing it to pass through the nose cavity.
  • The epiglottis is a soft cartilage tissue that is attached at the root of the tongue and restricts the passage of food into the windpipe and also prevents the entry of air into the esophagus that is the food pipe.
  • Once the food is down into the food pipe it is further broken down into smaller particles with the help of digestive enzymes.

Mechanical digestion breaks down food particles to smaller particles and is an important part in the digestion process.

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