5.1 Normal Phases of Swallowing

Describe the 4 phases of normal swallowing.

1.    Oral preparatory phase

2.    Oral propulsive phase

3.    Pharyngeal phase

4.    Esophageal phase

The  four sequential coordinated phases of swallowing are:

Table 1: The 4 Phases of Normal Swallowing2.





Oral Preparatory Phase

Food in the oral cavity is manipulated, masticated and mixed with saliva in preparation for swallowing.  The back of the tongue controls the position of the food, preventing it from falling into the pharynx.

Oral Propulsive Phase


The tongue transfers the bolus of food to the pharynx, triggering the pharyngeal swallow.

Pharyngeal Phase

Complex and coordinated movements of the tongue and pharyngeal structures propel the bolus into the esophagus, while protecting the airway.

Esophageal Phase

Coordinated contractions of the muscles of the esophagus move the bolus through the esophagus towards the stomach.