Swallowing Therapy Services
Eating and drinking are enjoyable social activities shared among family and friends. Most of us don’t think about swallowing while we eat or drink, we just do it. Swallowing is a complex process that involves the coordination of muscles, structures, and physiological processes. When functioning properly, swallowing is a natural reflex that allows us to eat and drink effortlessly. Feeding and swallowing disorders occur when the anatomical features or physiological processes of the swallow are damaged or disrupted. People diagnosed with feeding or swallowing disorders are at risk for nutrition and hydration problems and may also suffer psychological and emotional issues as a result of impaired quality of life.
The swallowing process has four phases:
- Oral Preparatory Phase: liquid or food (must be chewed) is formed into a rounded mass (also called a bolus) on the tongue in preparation for the remaining phases of the swallowing process.
- Oral Phase: the tongue transports the bolus from the front of the mouth to the back of the throat (pharynx) to trigger the swallow reflex.
- Pharyngeal Phase: the swallow reflex is triggered, the airway is sealed, and the food or liquid is squeezed down the throat and propelled toward the esophagus.
- Esophageal Phase: the food enters and squeezes down the esophagus and into the stomach.