We all have three pairs of major salivary glands – one pair on each side of the face namely parotid glands (in front of and below the ear), sub-mandibular glands (below the jaw bone) and sublingual glands in the floor of the mouth.
The parotid and submandibular glands are usually the ones to be affected by some kind of disease or another. Salivary gland disease usually presents as a swelling in the affected salivary gland.
Salivary glands may become inflamed (sialadenitis) for reasons ranging from dehydration in the elderly, trauma, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunosuppression, or Sjogren’s syndrome.
Calculi (concretions of debris) in the ducts draining the salivary gland may cause a back flow effect leading to pain and swelling of the salivary glands (usually the submandibular glands) particularly during meal times. The gland usually becomes inflamed and a course or antibiotics and painkillers may be required. This situation sometimes resolves by spontaneous calculi extrusion which could be accompanied by a bitter taste in the mouth. A sialogram (special x-ray with a dye in the salivary duct) may be required to outline the appearance of the duct. Having this investigation done can sometimes flush the debris and calculi out. In other cases instrumentation may be required to clear the ducts of the obstructing debris. This may be done under local anaesthesia. If the calculus (singular for calculi) is situated high up in the gland or if there are several calculi in the gland, the whole gland may need to be removed by surgery.
Salivary gland swellings may also be due to tumours which may be benign or malignant. A needle test or scan may be required before Mr Olarinde makes a decision (after discussing with you) about what to do about these swellings although almost certainly surgical excision is required. If you require removal of the salivary gland just in front your ear (i.e. the parotid gland) Mr Olarinde is skilled at removing this with a well concealed scar running around your ear (where appropriate) rather than the traditional scar which runs in front of your ear in to your upper neck. The submandibular salivary gland (just below your jaw) can be removed with an equally concealed scar beneath your jaw.