Once chewing reduces the food to a soft mass or bolus, the muscles in the mouth and throat propel it into the esophagus. The esophagus connects the throat and the stomach. The muscles in the esophagus begin a series of contractions called peristalsis, where the muscles behind the bolus push it forward, and the muscles in front of the bolus relax. The bolus continues its trek until it reaches a muscular valve at the lower end of the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter. The valve relaxes, allowing the bolus to pass into the stomach.
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