What Is the Primary Function of the Epiglottis?

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The epiglottis covers the glottis during swallowing so that food and liquid do not enter the glottis and the trachea. The epiglottis causes food to slip by the trachea and go down the esophagus and enter the digestive tract.

The epiglottis is a small flap of tissue and cartilage located at the entrance of the larynx. This structure is shaped like a leaf and is covered in taste buds. The epiglottis is controlled by two sets of muscles in the throat. Intrinsic muscles control vocal cords and cause the epiglottis to sit up to allow air to flow into the trachea. Extrinsic muscles control the folding of the epiglottis and allow it to fold over the trachea during swallowing.