What You Need to Know About Salivary Glands

By Kelly Warf, Au.D.
David Tojo, M.D.

Salivary glands, while very small, play a huge role. They are found in the mouth, face, and neck in order to produce saliva to moisten the mouth, initiate food digestion, and help protect the teeth from decay. Salivary glands can produce as much as a quart of saliva every day!

There are two types of salivary glands: major and minor. The major glands are about the size of a walnut and produce most of the saliva. The three major salivary glands are the parotid glands (located on the inside of the cheek), submandibular glands (located at the floor of the mouth), and sublingual glands (located under the tongue).

The minor glands are smaller and found along the lips, inside the cheek, mouth, and throat. There are several hundred minor glands in the mouth. Minor glands are so small that they can only be seen under a microscope.

So, what happens when these tiny glands stop working? Salivary gland disorder may produce the following symptoms:

  • Blocked saliva slow
  • Difficulty eating and swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased risk of cavities
  • Swelling in the gland(s) on the cheek and neck
  • Pain in the gland(s)
  • Foul-tasting drainage in the mouth
  • Repeated infections in the mouth
  • Growths or lumps in the neck

Now that you understand the importance and function of salivary glands, part 2 will describe the different types of salivary gland disorders, etiologies, and treatments. Stay tuned!

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please schedule an appointment with us today so we can determine the underlying cause and create a treatment plan. Schedule your appointment at the Ear, Nose, and Throat Center today. Call 847-685-1000.

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