The oral cavity allows the introduction of food to the digestive system.  It is the first step and allows for both mechanical and chemical breakdown.  Several features are involved and will be discussed.

The Esophagus is the second step to digestion and closely follows the oral cavity – once swallowing has initiated.

The Cephalic phase begins in the mouth and starts even prior to the introduction of food. Taste and smells stimulate release gastric secretion and saliva is secreated. Salivary amylase begins the process of digestion. Starches are broken down here.

Lips:
Marks the transition from skin to mucous membrane

Teeth:
Helps in the mechanical breakdown of food in the digestive system

Glands:  Parotid,  Submandibular, and Sublingual

Exocrine glands
Releases saliva and mucous
Breakdown of starch and maltose
Salivary amylase found in saliva

Tongue

Is a large and powerful muscle – classified as a skeletal muscle  
Help manipulate food for swallowing
Is helpful in taste

Taste buds – are papillae and come in 3 out of 4 forms
              .  Filiform (thread-shape)
              .  Fungiform (mushroom-shape)
              .  Circumvallate (ringed-circle)
              .  Foliate (leaf-shape)
   -  Filiform are only form that have no taste buds

Motor innervation – Hypoglossal nerve -  (Cranial nerve XII)

Some smaller muscle innervations – Vagus nerve – (Cranian nerve X)

Sensory innervations – Trigeminal nerve, Facial nerve, and Glossopharyngeal nerve

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