A human’s salivary glands produce up to a quart of saliva every day. Saliva lubricates the mouth, protects the teeth from bacteria, and helps people swallow. Humans have three main sets of salivary glands. These are the parotid glands on the inside of your cheeks, the submandibular glands at the bottom of your mouth, and the sublingual glands below the tongue. Salivary gland disease begins when the ducts become blocked, preventing saliva from draining. Lovett Dental Beaumont can help people suffering with saliva-related dental issues.
At Lovett Dental Beaumont, we provide oral pathology in Beaumont, Texas. We also offer other services, including:
Duct Problems to Look For
A common duct problem is sialolithiasis. This is a condition involving small salivary stones developing within the salivary glands. Made from calcium, the stones are called sialoliths. In some cases, the stones do not cause symptoms to develop, but they have the potential of blocking your saliva ducts. If the flow of saliva becomes partially stopped or blocked completely, then the gland might grow, and a stone could form.
Sialadenitis is the term for a painful salivary gland infection. There are several causes of these infections, which include streptococcus, staphylococcus, influenza, and Haemophilus. This condition happens more often in elderly individuals who have salivary gland stones, but babies may develop sialadenitis a few weeks after being born. Sialadenitis can turn into a severe infection if you don’t have it treated with specialty dental services.
If you catch a viral infection like the flu, mumps, echovirus, or one of the coxsackieviruses, then your salivary glands may expand. Cysts may also form in your salivary glands after an infection or an injury. They can also develop due to a stone or a tumor.
Salivary Gland Tumors
While it’s more common for salivary gland tumors to be benign, or noncancerous, they can be cancerous. If you suspect that you have one, be sure to have it checked by a medical professional. Often, this type of tumor develops in the parotid gland.
The most common kind of parotid tumor is a pleomorphic adenoma, which is benign and develops slowly. It will start as a painless lump toward the back of your jaw right under your earlobe. Women are more likely to develop pleomorphic adenomas than men.
Benign pleomorphic adenomas may also develop in the submandibular gland as well as in the minor salivary glands, but these adenomas occur less frequently than parotid tumors. The second most common type of benign tumor is a Warthin’s tumor. This kind is more likely to develop in older men. Malignant tumors happen in the salivary glands, but they occur infrequently. If an individual develops one, he or she is usually between 50 years old and 60 years old. Some grow rapidly, while others are slow to form.
Why Does Salivary Gland Disease Develop?
Medical researchers do not have a definitive answer as to why people develop salivary gland disease, but they suspect that a few factors play a role. For instance, dehydration causes your saliva to thicken, so this could be a contributing factor to salivary gland disease. If you decrease the amount of food that you’re eating, then you’re lowering your body’s demand for saliva. Medications like blood pressure pills, antihistamines, psychiatric drugs, and other substances may also lower saliva production.
There are risk factors for developing salivary gland disease. Along with dehydration, eating disorders and malnutrition put you at a higher risk of developing it. If you suffer from a chronic illness, have surgery or cancer, then you’ll be more likely to develop a salivary gland disease. Those who have air blowing occupations, such as glass blowing or playing a musical instrument that requires breath, are at a higher risk as well. Smoking puts you at a higher risk, as does being exposed to radiation. Be sure to see a medical professional at a general dentistry if you notice something uncommon with your saliva or salivary glands.
Complete Dental Care At Lovett Dental Beaumont
Salivary gland diseases happen in different forms. If you are experiencing the symptoms of a salivary gland disease, don’t wait to have it assessed. At Lovett Dental Beaumont, we have oral pathology services available. For more information or to make an appointment, contact our general dentistry at 409.230.0393.