Salivary gland disorders are conditions that lead to swelling or pain in the saliva-producing tissues around the mouth.
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:
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.
Tests vary depending on the suspected disorder.
The treatment varies depending on the specific disorder.
Most salivary gland disorders respond well to treatment. See the specific disorders.
See the specific disorders.
ALWAYS call your health care provider if you have symptoms of a salivary gland disorder.
Most of the problems with salivary glands are not preventable. Adequate hydration, use of sialogogues (things that increase salivation -- for example, sour candy), and massage of the gland can increase salivary flow and help prevent infection.