Dr. Frank Brettschneider serves as president of Port Huron Ear, Nose, and Throat, PC, and offers advanced otolaryngology and oro-facial plastic surgery solutions. Dr. Frank Brettschneider’s areas of focus include obstructive sleep apnea and conditions of the salivary glands.
Saliva has a number of essential functions, including facilitating the swallowing and digestion of food and protecting teeth from bacteria. Released from three major pairs of glands, saliva also secretes through hundreds of tiny glands within the mouth and throat.
Saliva drains into the mouth via ducts, and these are susceptible to blockage by sialoliths, or salivary stones. Formed by crystallized saliva deposit buildups, the stones can block the ducts, causing the saliva to get backed up and leading to swelling and pain that progressively worsens over time.
In cases where the salivary gland duct is blocked for an extended period, sialadenitis, or salivary gland infection, can occur. This results in a tender lump within the gland and drainage of bad-tasting pus in the mouth.
In cases of duct blockage and stones, usual treatments include applying warm compresses, removing stones manually, and eating sour candy as a way of increasing saliva flow. In more serious cases, surgery may be needed to eliminate blockage from specific glands.
Another common issue with salivary glands is viral infections, including flu and mumps, which cause swelling of the parotid glands on either side of the face. This results in the patient having a “chipmunk cheeks” appearance.