Common Issues of the Salivary Glands

 

Salivary Glands pic

Salivary Glands
Image: webmd.com

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.

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Causes and Effects of Salivary Gland Stones

An experienced otolaryngologist, Dr. Frank Brettschneider has treated many conditions of the salivary glands. Dr. Frank Brettschneider provides both medical and surgical therapies for salivary stones and related conditions.

The parotid, sublingual, and submandibular glands produce the saliva that people need to digest food and fight against tooth decay. However, a condition known as sialolithiasis can block these glands and interrupt the release of saliva. This occurs when salivary chemicals like calcium collect in the gland or duct and begin to form stones, which are not noticeable to the patient until they close off the duct and cause saliva to collect in the gland.

As the saliva pools in the gland, the patient may feel intermittent pain. If the condition remains untreated, it may cause the gland to become infected or inflamed. When this happens, the patient may feel a lump or taste the drainage of pus into the mouth. Saliva-stimulating treatments or gentle massage may help to pass the stone in less severe cases, though some patients may require surgical removal of the stone from the gland.