Mastication, the act of chewing or grinding the solid parts of food between the teeth, by the united motion of the jaws, tongue, and lips; in consequence of which it is broken into small pieces, mixed with the saliva, and thus adapted for deglutition, as well as a more easy digestion.
This process in the animal economy is so essential to the prosperity of the individual, that those who are unfortunately deprived of their teeth, seldom enjoy a good state of health. Being unable to masticate solid food, they have recourse to rich soups, broths, jellies, etc. all of which require not only vigorous organs of digestion, but likewise a proper share of exercise: both conditions rarely concur in favour of the aged or decrepid, so that their fluids become gradually tainted with an unnatural acrimony, a disposition to a full habit or plethora is often induced; or the con-stitution is otherwise impaired.—. Hence also the absurdity of suffering nurses (who are perhaps the masked victims of disease) to chew the victuals of healthy and uncon-taminated infants.—It is equally pernicious to swallow solid food at meals, in so expeditious a manner as to allow no time for proper mas tication. Many persons thus igno-rantly lay the foundation of a foul and disordered stomach; the con-quences of which are, frequent eructations, flatulency, colic, etc. Every particle of animal or vegetable aliment which is eaten in an unmasticated state, requires at least double efforts of the digestive organs, and is not productive of half the nutriment which it would otherwise afford. Daily experience amply corroborates this assertion, especially in the articles of boiled animal food, carrots, cucumbers, etc. if hastily consumed.—Lastly, there is a degree of brutality in fast eating, which is highly reprehensible; besides, the injury thus occasioned to the individual cannot be easily repaired.