CategoriesDiet/Lifestyle Basics

Digestion in the Mouth

Digestion in the Mouth

Last time we talked about the role of the hands in digestion.  Today we are going to discuss several aspects of digestion that occur in the mouth. The first aspect of digestion is mastication, or chewing.


Once food actually enters the mouth, by whatever means, chewing begins. I should say that chewing should begin because many people do not chew their food. Somehow people have acquired the notion that as long as food is chewed into pieces small enough to swallow without choking, that is sufficient. In reality, chewing is a process that breaks the particles into their smallest form while mixing those pieces with saliva. I have watched people eat rice as though it were pudding (swallow it without chewing), and I have seen a person actually chew liquid, but a medium between these is a good place. People have tried to place numbers on the amount of times you should chew each bite, and it amounts to about 40 chews for a bite that includes meat and works its way down until you are drinking and don’t have to chew at all. Realistically, food should be chewed until it can be easily swallowed. Because so many have become accustomed to swallowing without chewing anyway, this concept may not help. I have noticed that most people with weakness of the stomach or people who are overweight do not chew their food enough.


Chewing is considered mechanical digestion. There are many opinions as to how many times a person should chew and, while I think it varies a little with each person, a minimum of 40 chews per bite of food is good. This would not hold true with any bite because Jello obviously needs less chew time than meat, but I have seen people swallow rice whole. Chewing is two-fold. First, it breaks food into smaller pieces. If you don’t break food into small enough pieces, the stomach will not be able to digest it, and it will end up passing into the colon as waste. As a rule of thumb, people who constantly struggle with weight problems do not chew their food. The second reason for chewing is because saliva must mix with the food. The mouth releases amylase, an enzyme used for digesting carbohydrates, and most of the foods we swallow without chewing are carbohydrates. Rice, tapioca, pudding, etc. – these are all carbohydrates that really need that amylase to begin digestion. If you don’t feel like you can chew a food because it seems foolish, do it for the sake of getting the saliva mixed in with it.

Do the teeth have any other function other than to break food up (mechanical digestion)? Well, as long as you are asking, the teeth actually release a small electrical current every time you chew. One of the reasons you release saliva when you eat is so that it can act as a conductor for the currents released by the teeth. Each tooth is electromagnetically connected to an organ or gland. When that organ or gland becomes deficient in a nutrient, it sends the message to the mouth via the teeth. When you begin chewing the food, the tooth is supposed to send microcharges into the foods almost as if giving the food a signal so the nutrients will know where to go when they reach the blood stream. When your teeth are filled with amalgam fillings, you corrupt the signal and, of course, get a slow accumulation of mercury poisoning in your body. If you have a root canal, a pulled tooth, or anything that is not a healthy tooth, that charge is either missing or disrupted. The charge is not absolutely essential to being healthy, but if the food is not charged before it reaches the blood, the body must use energy from other sources to signal it. The body has many ways to conserve energy if we will help it out. Most of you probably know that enzyme production is very stressed in the body and charged particles of food because of hand use and that action of the teeth help relieve the enzyme needs. So the less your teeth do their job, the harder it is on the rest of the digestive system.

NOTE: The Actinomyces, Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus bacteria cling to teeth and release acids that decay the teeth (cause cavities). These bacteria are the reason we must brush our teeth. These bacteria feed on sugar, primarily refined forms of it. While it has become common to coat the teeth with a sealant that is supposed to prevent the acids from reaching the teeth and make the surface of the tooth less prone to the clinging bacteria, this ‘sealing’ process can be very negative. First of all, the teeth need to breath. Teeth have pores in them and little ridges and these are what become sealed with these treatments. While the initial logic of sealing teeth makes sense, did you ever wonder what the pores and ridges were there for? Kind of makes you think, huh? God designed the body perfectly; the teeth are not rotting because the ridges allow bacteria to become harbored – they are rotting because your diet is horrible and you are not nutritionally balanced enough to maintain strong teeth. Your diet and lifestyle are creating a good host condition for the bacteria. Did God create toothbrushes for us or did He provide a diet that would not feed these acid-forming bacteria?

Because we do not have good sources for foods that are high quality and our digestive system is weakened already, we are forced to brush our teeth, so don’t think I discourage it. The best thing to brush the teeth with is baking soda though, not toothpaste. Put a box where you would normally keep your toothpaste and dip the bristles of your toothbrush in it before brushing your teeth. Your teeth will feel nice and clean when you are done, and plaque will not build up nearly as fast. Symbolically, plaque on the teeth indicate the amount of plaque you are accumulating in your arteries. If you accumulate plaque on your teeth easily, your arteries are in danger. Also notice that some foods tend to make your teeth really grimy feeling and you want to go brush them or scrape them with your finger nail; these foods are really hazardous to your arteries. Chinese food does it to me every time. You will notice that it is generally a cooked fat or oil that gives this grimy feeling on the teeth. Toothpaste, even the natural kinds, contain ingredients that actually trap bacteria on your teeth, so don’t be impressed by the Listerine commercials. Listerine can kill some bacteria, but there are other ingredients in the paste that work against it. Don’t trust what the average dentist tells you about toothpaste; they were taught by the people who produce the toothpaste. The teeth actually reveal the overall health of the bones, so if you have a lot of cavities and weak teeth, you need to find out what to do for your bones. Your teeth are nothing more than an extension of your bones. NOTE: You will never have to worry about gum disease or rotting teeth if you keep the flora and the pH in the intestine balanced.

Cephalic action

One of the first stages of digestion is cephalic action, not chewing. This is when the nose smells the food and receptors in the brain begin to automatically release saliva. The release of saliva is controlled by parasympathetic response. Vice versa, if you smell something you don’t like or your brain does not feel it would be of benefit to your body, sympathetic response withholds salivary release. After food has been chewed and thoroughly mixed with saliva, food is swallowed. It first passes into the pharynx, then down the esophagus, penetrating the diaphragm muscle through the esophageal hiatus and finally past the lower esophageal sphincter (cardiac sphincter) into the stomach.