Eat Safe Logo and the Words "Food for Thought" under a graphic of a brain made up of healthy, colorful foods

Food for Thought: the 4 Phases of Normal Swallow in Adults

Summit DD Eat Safe logoThere are 4 Phases to Eating and swallowing.  Some phases involve voluntary actions, and some involve involuntary (reflexive) actions.  Each phase requires timing and coordination on its own and in coordination with the other phases to ensure that food and drink get to the stomach safely.

The 4 Phases of a Normal Swallow in Adults are: 

  1. Oral Preparatory
  2. Oral Transit
  3. Pharyngeal
  4. Esophageal

Phase One:  Oral Preparatory

  • This Phase Involves anticipation of the food approaching the mouth, introduction of the food or drink into the mouth and the mashing and mixing of food with saliva to prepare it for the other phases of the swallow. This phase includes:
  • Lips and teeth removing food from a utensil or fingers, chewing food and mixing it with saliva to create a cohesive mass (bolus) which starts to break down the food, lips are closed so food/liquid won’t fall out of the mouth, coordination of the teeth, tongue, hard and soft palates, cheeks etc. to move the bolus around the mouth to prepare it and bring the bolus back together before moving it back to swallow.

Stayed tuned for more “Food for Thought” in the next MUI newsletter. Next newsletter, Phase II: Oral Transit.

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