Mastication or chewing is the process by which food is crushed and ground by teeth. It is the first step of digestion, and it increases the surface area of foods to allow more efficient break down by enzymes. During the mastication process, the food is positioned by the cheek and tongue between the teeth for grinding. The muscles of mastication move the jaws to bring the teeth into intermittent contact, repeatedly occluding and opening. As chewing continues, the food is made softer and warmer, and the enzymes in saliva begin to break down carbohydrates in the food. After chewing, the food (now called a bolus) is swallowed. It enters the oesophagus and via peristalsis continues on to the stomach, where the next step of digestion occurs. Premastication is sometimes performed by human parents for infants who are unable to do so for themselves. The food is masticated in the mouth of the parent into a bolus and then transferred to the infant for consumption. (Some other animals also premasticate.) Cattle and some other animals, called ruminants, chew food more than once to extract more nutrients. After the first round of chewing, this food is called cud.
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