Salivary Gland Condition

We had 3 major salivary glands on each side and numerous minor salivary glands throughout the mouth and throat. The major salivary glands are the parotid gland in front on the ear, submandibular gland under the jaw and sublingual gland under the tongue. These glands produce saliva which is carried by ducts that open in to the mouth. Common problems with the salivary glands include tumours, stones and infection.

Tumours usually present as painless swellings in front of the ear or under the jaw. Salivary gland stones can cause swelling of the glands after meals as the stone blocks the duct and causes the saliva to back up in the gland. Infections usually cause pain and swelling of the glands.

If a salivary gland tumour is suspected, nasopharyngoscopy, fine needle biopsy of the lump and CT scan of the gland would be done. These tests are done to establish if the tumour is benign or malignant. Surgery is often required to remove tumours of the salivary gland.

Stones in the submandibular duct can sometimes be removed from the mouth if the stone is felt in the floor of mouth. Larger stones in the submandibular gland may require removal of the gland itself.

Infections of the salivary glands are usually treated with antibiotics and generally do not need surgery.