It is estimated that humans swallow up to 1,000 times per day and 50 times per night. It is one of the most complex behaviours we perform.
Swallowing requires at least six cranial nerves and 26 muscles of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus. These include:
- 11 facial muscles – lip control and cheeks
- 5 muscles of palate (roof of mouth)
- 8 muscles for control of floor of mouth and tongue
- 5 muscles of pharynx (i.e. top portion of throat).
We swallow 1ml of saliva at a time and can swallow up to two litres of saliva in one day.
The gag reflex bears no relation to the swallow reflex. Normal ageing can affect the swallowing process.
It is important to consider the type of food, the texture and the manner in which the food is presented to our patients and residents: for their enjoyment, nutritional intake, ease of eating and their safety.
Please get in touch with Anita Hurburun in the Speech and Language Therapy Team if you would like more information, Anita.Hurburun@mhc-uk.com.