If you have difficulty swallowing
due to a stroke, Parkinson’s
Disease, brain tumor, head injury,
or anoxia (lack of oxygen to
the brain and nervous system),
you may have dysphagia and require
the services of our licensed
speech and language pathologist.
Our speech pathologist can be
reached at (207) 373-6327.
Dysphagia can result from a
defect in any one of the three
phases of swallowing. These phases
During the oral phase of swallowing,
food is chewed by movement of
the lower jaw and teeth. The
chewed food forms a soft mass
or bolus, which must then be
moved by the tongue to the back
of the mouth, ready for swallowing.
During this phase the lips must
be able to maintain a seal to
prevent food leaking out of the
mouth, and sufficient tension
in the cheek muscles to prevent
the food from getting caught
between the jaw and the cheek.
The oral phase of swallowing
relies on voluntary muscle action
initiated by the person who is
The pharyngeal phase of swallowing
is a reflex action, in which
the food moves through the pharynx.
It takes place in less than a
second. During this phase, the
tongue and the soft palate must
work together to prevent food
from entering the nasal cavity.
Once in the pharynx, the food
is pushed down toward the esophagus
by the action of the constricting
muscles of the pharynx. The larynx
(voice box)closes to prevent
food from entering the trachea
This final phase of the swallowing
process uses waves of muscle
contraction to push the food
down the esophagus, through the
and into the stomach.
The process of swallowing relies
on a host of muscles and nerves
in the face, neck and mouth to
be successful. A disruption of
any part of the process can result
in an inability to swallow, leading
to an inability to acquire and
maintain proper nutrition.
If you or someone you love is
affected by a swallowing disorder,
contact Mid Coast Hospital Rehabilitation
Department at (207) 373-6327,
to make an appointment with our