Digestive System of the Head and Neck

The digestive system of the head and neck contain the structures which are used for getting food into the body, to begin the process of breaking down that food for energy. These structures include the teeth, mouth, the parotid, sublingual and submandibular glands (all of which produce saliva), and the epiglottis. The opening to the trachea lies just behind the epiglottis, but is not significant to the process of digestion.

Food breakdown begins with the teeth and the structures of the...

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Full Digestive System of the Head and Neck Description

[Continued from above] . . . mouth: the process of mastication (chewing) not only grinds the food into small pieces but also releases saliva, which contains enzymes that break down some of the fat and starch molecules in food. The food then moves past the epiglottis - this is a small lid-like flap of skin which moves reflexively upon swallowing to direct food into the alimentary canal rather than into the opening to the trachea.