Digestion starts with the first bite of food. Teeth cut, tear, and grind food and saliva into a paste. Baby teeth start erupting from the gums at about 6 months of age and begin to be replaced by permanent teeth at about at about 7 years of age and continue to age 25. All teeth have a common structure and have hard enamel to protect underlying tissues from decay and damage.

The mouth is bordered by the lips, cheeks, palate, floor, and pharynx. The tongue helps to manipulate food and receive sensations of taste. The saliva produced by salivary glands moistens the food and begins the chemical digestion of starches and triglycerides.

Food, in the form of a bolus, passes from the mouth to the pharynx and into the esophagus for passage to the stomach. The process of swallowing is a reflex that propels food and prevents it from entering the respiratory tract.

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