Salivary gland disorders are conditions that lead to swelling or pain in the saliva-producing tissues around the mouth.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
The salivary glands produce saliva (spit), which moistens food to aid chewing and swallowing. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the digestion process. Saliva also cleans the mouth by washing away bacteria and food particles. Saliva keeps the mouth moist and helps to keep dentures or orthodontic appliances (such as retainers) in place.
There are three pairs of salivary glands:
- The two largest are the parotid glands, one in each cheek in front of the ears
- Two sublingual glands are under the floor of the mouth
- Two submandibular glands are at the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw
All of the salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth through ducts that open at various locations in the mouth.
The salivary glands may become inflamed (irritated) because of infection, tumors, or stones.
- Salivary duct stones
- Salivary duct tumors
- Salivary gland infections
Pictures & Images
Head and neck glands
There are several pairs of salivary glands in different locations: a major pair in front of the ears (parotid glands); two major pair on the floor of the mouth (sublingual and submaxillary glands); and several minor pairs within the lips, cheeks, and tongue.
Review Date : 3/3/2009
Reviewed By : James L. Demetroulakos, MD, FACS, Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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