Healthy smiles don’t just come from healthy gums and teeth, but healthy salivary glands as well. Saliva is such an essential part of your smile because it lubricates your mouth so that you can swallow, it protects your teeth and gums from bacteria making your breath smell better, and not only helps you digest your food but works to keep dental appliances like dentures in place.
This clear liquid made mostly of water mixed with mucus, glycoproteins, electrolytes, enzymes and antibacterial compounds, travels through tubes in the mouth from your salivary glands. These glands are found under the tongue, at the bottom of the mouth and inside each cheek. Sometimes your salivary glands can become blocked, preventing the usual flow of saliva. This can result in everything from dry mouth, pain in the glands, fever, pus, and swollen salivary glands. So what problems can crop up with the salivary glands?
Salivary stones – (or sialoliths), these are saliva deposits which have crystallized. The stones can cause the salivary glands to swell, and if they block saliva flow it can cause swelling and pain. To avoid having infection in the salivary gland you will need to be treated. Until you are treated, you may feel pain that comes and goes and worsens.
Salivary gland infection – (or sialadenitis), is a bacterial infection in the glands blocking the duct secreting into the mouth. Bacterial infections tend to arise in one salivary gland rather than both. They can be accompanied by fever and pain. These infections can come from the bacteria in the mouth, in addition to staph bacteria. Dehydration and malnourishment can both increase your risk of getting this type of infection. You will feel a painful lump in the mouth which secretes pus. Neglecting treatment can result in fevers, abscess and severe pain.
Infections – viral infections, like the flu or the mumps, can bring on swelling in the salivary glands. Unlike bacterial infections, these usually happens in the glands inside both cheeks, and you will end up with puffy looking cheeks.
Cysts and tumors – other problems the salivary glands can experience include cysts and tumors from stones, injuries or infections which block the saliva flow in the glands. Cysts can appear as a soft raised area or blister, can interfere with eating and speaking. Tumors are usually painless and grow slowly.
Treatment for problems with your salivary glands may involve medication, antibiotics, stone removal, warm compresses, and even sour candies to increase saliva flow. For large cysts and tumors, you may require surgery.
Your salivary glands will help keep you smiling with good oral health. If you have any questions or concerns you can schedule a visit with Dr. Lynh Pham by calling our Smiley Dental Fort Worth team in Ft. Worth, Texas at 817.927.1877 today!