Salivary gland infections : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Definition

Salivary gland infections are viral or bacterial infections of the saliva-producing glands.

There are three pairs of major salivary glands.

  • The two largest are the parotid glands, one in each cheek over the jaw in front of the ears. Inflammation of one or more of these glands is called parotitis, or parotiditis.
  • Two submandibular glands are at the back of the mouth on both sides of the jaw.
  • Two sublingual glands are under the floor of the mouth.

All of the salivary glands empty saliva into the mouth through ducts that open at various locations in the mouth.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Salivary gland infections are somewhat common.

Viral infections such as mumps often affect the salivary glands (mumps most often causes parotiditis). This type of infection is now considerably rare in children because of the MMR vaccine.

Bacterial infections usually result from obstruction (such as salivary duct stones) or poor oral hygiene. They can be seen in people who are dehydrated and hospitalized.

Pictures & Images

Head and neck glands

There are several pairs of salivary glands in different locations: a major pair in front of the ears (parotid glands); two major pair on the floor of the mouth (sublingual and submaxillary glands); and several minor pairs within the lips, cheeks, and tongue.


Review Date : 3/3/2009
Reviewed By : James L. Demetroulakos, MD, FACS, Department of Otolaryngology, North Shore Medical Center, Salem, MA. Clinical Instructor in Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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