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Digestion in Mouth

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Digestion in mouth

It is an important process that breaks down the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals into simpler forms so that it can be absorbed easily into the body cells. During this process, proteins are converted into amino acids, carbohydrates are converted into simple sugars and fats are broken down into fatty acids and glycerol.

Many digestive enzymes and hormones act on food, at various stages during the process of digestion. The whole process occurs in a sequential manner.

(agrilearner) The digestive system consists of one long tube and the organs that attach to it.  The organs produce digestive chemicals (enzymes and acids) that break down the nutrients into simpler forms so that absorption through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream can occur.

Mechanical and Chemical Digestion

There are two kinds of digestion:  mechanical and chemical.  Mechanical digestion involves physically breaking the food into smaller pieces.  Mechanical digestion begins in the mouth as the food is chewed.  Chemical digestion involves breaking down the food into simpler nutrients that can be used by the cells. Chemical digestion begins in the mouth when food mixes with saliva.  Saliva contains an enzyme (amylase) that begins the breakdown of carbohydrates.  (An enzyme is a protein that can catalyze certain biochemical reactions).

The Digestive Process

Mouth

Food is chewed into smaller pieces.  Adults have 32 specialized teeth—teeth that can grind, chew, and tear different kinds of food. The tongue is an organ consisting of skeletal muscles (voluntary muscles) that move the food around the mouth to allow for efficient mechanical digestion. Salivary glands beneath and in back of the tongue secrete the saliva that allows for easier swallowing of food and the beginning of chemical digestion.

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Pharnyx

Swallowing forces the chewed food through a tubular entrance (pharynx) to the esophagus(food tube).  As food is swallowed a flap-like valve, the epiglottis, closes over the trachea (windpipe) to prevent food entering the windpipe and causing choking.

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Esophagus

The esophagus connects the pharynx with the stomach.  Contractions of the esophagus push the food through a sphincter (a ring of smooth muscle that closes off an opening in the body) and into the stomach.

NOTE:  The digestive system moves food along by way of peristalsis, a wavelike contraction of smooth (involuntary) muscle.

Other than the chemical digestion of carbohydrates in the mouth, all digestion to this point has been mechanical.

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