Oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus

Oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus

The first section of the gastrointestinal tract comprises the oral cavity, the pharynx and the esophagus.



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Oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus

The first section of the gastrointestinal tract is where the food is crushed and ground, then propelled towards the stomach. Chemical digestion also starts here.
Food that enters the oral cavity is crushed and ground by the teeth, through biting and chewing. The tongue then mixes the food with saliva. The bolus is then pushed to the esophagus via the pharynx.

The tongue pushes the bolus towards the pharynx during swallowing. At the same time, the passage from the pharyngeal cavity to the nasal cavity is blocked, although food can enter it when we sneeze.

The epiglottis covers the larynx when we swallow and prevents the bolus from entering the trachea. If food nevertheless enters the trachea, the cough reflex is activated to remove foreign material from the respiratory tract. The peristaltic motion of the esophagus ensures that the bolus proceeds to the stomach.

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