Salivary Glands

The salivary glands are a group of glands in the mouth and throat that produce saliva, which lubricates your mouth to make chewing and swallowing easier, prevent tooth decay, protect your mouth from bacteria and diseases, and aid in digestion. The major salivary glands consist of the parotid glands, submandibular glands, and sublingual glands. In addition, there are hundreds of minor salivary glands in the mouth and throat.

What are Some Salivary Gland Disorders?

Disorders of the salivary glands include infections such as mumps or flu, salivary stones (crystallized saliva deposits), cysts, and autoimmune diseases.

These conditions can interfere with the flow of saliva, causing it to build up and cause swelling, infection, and eventually abscessed glands.

Be on the alert for symptoms such as dry mouth, fever, difficulty swallowing, an unpleasant taste in the mouth, facial or mouth pain, jaw and neck swelling, muscle weakness, and numbness. In addition, tumors sometimes occur in this region. While frequently benign, they should be evaluated through a head and neck examination to determine if further testing is necessary.

How Will My Doctor Treat Salivary Gland Disorders?

Salivary gland disorders can be treated medically or surgically, depending on the exact cause. Treatment of salivary stones and other blockages may include warm compresses, sucking on hard candy to increase saliva flow, or surgery. Medications can help relieve symptoms of dry mouth, and antibiotics are required for bacterial infections.

A biopsy will be performed to test abnormal lumps for cancer. If a tumor is diagnosed, then you might undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination.