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Three Secrets of a GREAT Swallow

September 2, 2017

Swallowing is one of three oral functions that we all do:  swallowing, chewing, and speaking.  They all use the mouth and the same mouth-parts, but they’re very different.  One swallow takes mere moments.  Chewing and speech takes longer.


First, although the movements for each are unique, it’s important to know that all oral functions are based on two things:  stabilization and mobilization.  It’s rather like writing.  You hold the pencil in your hand with your fingers.  As you write, the edge of your hand anchors (stabilizes) to the table, and your fingers move the pencil.  For oral functions, there is always a mouth-part that anchors to assist another mouth-part in moving.  You’ll find out in therapy which mouth-parts do which.


Second, intra-oral suctioning.  Intra-oral suction--suction inside the mouth--only happens when you swallow (actually just prior to the swallow).  Suction moves the contents (liquid, food, saliva) to the tongue that stays in the middle of the mouth and receives the contents.  It plays a major role in helping to stabilize and mobilize mouth-parts for the swallow.  Most people who do a tongue thrust swallow gather their food and liquid incorrectly.


Third, do know there is a definite swallowing sequence.  You’ll learn all about the sequence and how to do it during your therapy time.  Always remember to do the four parts of the swallow.  Don’t leave any of them out.  At first, you’ll do them slowly to make sure each part is included.  Eventually as your mouth learns the sequence, your swallow will happen quickly and naturally.  The swallow works best when all four parts are included.  Here they are:

  • Suction (moves the contents to the tongue; the tongue receives),

  • Bite (jaw closes, teeth stabilize to support the tongue),

  • Squeeze Up (front-tongue elevates/mobilizes and applies pressure, and moves the contents back to the back), and

  • Lift (back-tongue elevates and applies mild to moderate pressure, and helps to move the contents down).













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Speech Dynamics, Inc.

90 Davis Lane

Ellijay, GA 30540