In the digestive system mouth has an important function of food ingestion (taking in the food) and starting the digestion of food.
The digestion process starts as soon as we take
the food in. Mouth is also known as oral cavity.
Our teeth and tongue are situated in the mouth and are also helpful in the digestive process. Teeth should be in healthy condition to help chew food well.
Remember you are asked to chew your food well and not talk while there is food in the mouth? Chewing food well is necessary for the proper digestion of food. Not chewing food well can lead to digestive problems such as acid indigestion.
Digestive process starts with the production of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is produced when you smell or see food.
As soon as we take the food in through the mouth, teeth start chewing. The saliva is already produced at the sight and smell of food. The food is mixed with the saliva with the help of the tongue. There is a chemical action of salivary enzymes. An enzyme in the saliva called amylase starts to break down the carbohydrates in the mouth.
The teeth and tongue work together in the mechanical breakdown of the foods. The tongue moves the food around and makes it easy for the teeth to masticate well. The saliva keeps the food moist which is easily chewed and then moved down the throat when we swallow.
The solid Food is broken into smaller pieces and then into paste in the mouth which makes it easy for digestion in the stomach. The finer the food is ground, chewed in the mouth, the easier it is for digestion.
The movement of the jaw and tongue help to swallow the food. It is
pushed into the throat. The swallowing action is done voluntarily. As we
swallow a flap automatically covers the entrance of the windpipe (to
prevent choking). The food is then pushed down into the oesophagus.