Salivary Gland Disease

Your salivary glands play an important role in keeping your mouth healthy. There are three main pairs of salivary glands that make saliva. Saliva keeps your mouth moist, helps digest food and helps prevent tooth decay.

Infections, inflammation and other conditions can block the flow of saliva into your mouth. The skilled oral surgeons at Henry Ford Health are experts at diagnosing and treating all types of salivary gland diseases.

Salivary gland conditions

Your salivary glands produce saliva and deliver it to your mouth through ducts (small tubes). If a duct becomes blocked, saliva can no longer flow into your mouth.

There are several conditions that can cause blockages in your salivary ducts, including:

  • Infection and swelling
  • Salivary gland producing too little saliva
  • Salivary gland stones
  • Tumor in the salivary gland (cancerous or noncancerous)

Diagnosing and treating salivary gland disease

If your provider suspects a problem with your salivary glands, the first step is making an accurate diagnosis. In addition to a physical exam, your provider may perform a CT scan or biopsy (sample of tissue).

The most common problems result from a stone or other obstruction in the gland or the duct. Treatment to clear the blockage may include:

  • Nonsurgical approach: Small salivary stones may pass on their own. Drinking lots of water, using warm compresses on the swollen gland and taking antibiotics to prevent infection are often all that’s needed.
  • Endoscopic procedure: During this minimally invasive procedure, your provider passes a small scope into the gland to find and remove the stone or other obstruction. We can also use endoscopy to dilate the duct and inject steroids into the gland to reduce inflammation.
  • Surgery to remove gland: We may need to surgically remove a salivary gland if there is a large stone that hasn’t responded to other treatments. After recovery, your other salivary glands will start producing more saliva to compensate for the missing one.

Take the next step

We provide comprehensive care for all types of salivary gland conditions. Request an appointment today with one our oral surgery specialists.

Take the next step

Let us help you schedule an appointment, call (800) 436-7936.


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