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Salivary gland disorders represent a diverse group of conditions ranging from inflammation of the salivary glands secondary to obstruction by stones (calculi) to a variety of benign and malignant tumours.

The major salivary glands include:

  • The Parotid Glands which are located in front of the ears
  • The Submandibular Glands which are located underneath the middle part of the jawbone
  • The Sublingual Glands which are located under the tongue in the floor of the mouth

In addition to the major glands there are hundreds of tiny little salivary glands which are peppered underneath the mucosa of the oral cavity.

Inflammatory disorders of the salivary glands include:

  • Acute Sialadenitis which may be secondary to a viral or bacterial infection. Infection of the salivary glands can also be secondary to obstruction of the outflow tract by a calculus (calcified stone).
  • Chronic Sialadenitis can occur in the salivary glands without any obvious cause. Sometimes the outflow tract can develop strictures and scar tissue from repeated infections which can then result in chronic infection.
  • Autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Chronic granulomatous diseases which are quite rare

Salivary gland tumours

Salivary gland tumours can present with a lump or pain in any of the salivary glands.

A list of common Salivary gland tumours include:

Benign Tumours:
Pleomorphic adenoma
Warthin’s tumour
Monomorphic Adenoma

Malignant Tumours:
Metastatic Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma
Mucoepidermoid carcinoma
Adenoid cystic carcinoma
Acinic cell carcinoma

Benign Cysts

Any persistent lump in the salivary gland requires comprehensive assessment and investigation to exclude malignancy. This is best done by an ENT Head and Neck Surgeon who has particular expertise in this field.

Dr Bova’s article, published in Medicine Today, on Salivary Gland Disorders: Download Article